What’s new in eldercare? February 2021
A round-up of latest news and views for anyone helping to supporting older friends and relatives.
How are vaccinations progressing?
There’s continuing good news on the Covid-19 vaccination front. Now all care home residents in England have at least been offered vaccinations, although we don’t know when they will all have received their first jabs. Meanwhile almost four out of five over 80s in England have received their first dose, but delivery continues to be variable across the country, while the Welsh government says it has hit its own care home vaccine target. Theoretically all over 70s in England have now been contacted to arrange a vaccination, so those who haven’t heard yet are being asked to contact the NHS via the booking system or by calling 119.
A statement from a number of government-led bodies in England has made it clear that no care home staff that have tested positive for Covid-19 should be working in a care setting until they have complete the period of self-isolation. The Care Quality Commission promises that it will take swift action to make failure to comply a safeguarding issues. Separately the National Care Association has highlighted concerns that cultural issues are deterring some care home workers from accepting the vaccine. Meanwhile the CQC says it is working with the government on assuring the safe discharge of Covid-positive hospital patients back into care homes.
Just under a third of home care workers in England had been vaccinated by the end of January 2021, and there was a strong willingness to take part in the programme, according to a snapshot survey by the UK Homecare Association. However, there were significant variations across the country. Separately the National Care Association has highlighted concerns that cultural issues are deterring some care home workers from accepting the vaccine.
Confused about which vaccine is which and their efficiency? So were we. The above useful vaccine comparison table, is from Sky News. With the speed that vaccines are now coming online, we can potentially see more options coming forward. In the last few days there have been concerns raised about the efficacy of the Oxford vaccine against the latest South African variant – this article explains that it might not be right to rush to judgement.
An interesting read if you’d like to know more about how the vaccination programme works is the UK government advice to healthcare practitioners. This includes advice about consent:
‘Before giving a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccinators must ensure that they have obtained Informed consent from the individual or a person legally able to act on the person’s behalf, and that this has been recorded appropriately. Where a person lacks the capacity to consent at the time of vaccination, in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a decision to vaccinate may be made in the individual’s best interests.’
Face coverings in shops
Wearing a face covering in shops has become a hugely contentious subject, with those who can’t for health reasons becoming increasingly anxious about being banned from shops. This is the advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission to retailers, which clarifies their legal responsibilities to disabled customers. If retailers follow this guidance, they shouldn’t stop non-mask wearers with valid reasons from entering their shops, but the situation remains complex – especially with members of the public taking policing the ‘rules’ upon themselves.
Shopping with cash
Grocery shopping with cash has reportedly become more difficult but not impossible since the start of the Coronavirus crisis. No supermarket has banned cash payments according to this article. Possibly the least helpful response quoted here is from Sainsbury’s, which says that it prefers those paying with cash to use the self-service tills.
More financial help for those with care needs in Scotland
Adults who self-fund their residential care in Scotland will be better off from April thanks to an increase in the allowance for personal and nursing care costs.
Persuasive investment fraud
Investment fraud is on the rise. Such practices usually start with a phone call from an ‘investment company’, trying to persuade the victim to invest in materials such as diamonds or rare metals, land or alternative energy. They encourage massive investments – possibly entire pensions – in return for huge returns. And they seem authentic – especially when they appear to be representing a firm that the victim has dealt with before. Advice from Surrey Police, where this sort of fraud is rising alarmingly is:
- If you’re looking to make an investment, check that the person or company are who they say they are by using the Financial Conduct Authority’s smart scam list
- Legitimate investment companies will never cold call
- If the investment opportunity seems to come from a reputable firm, contact the firm yourself with the phone number listed on their official website to check
- Fraudsters will contact you repeatedly to build trust – don’t give them anything and hang up or delete their messages
- If a loved one has made large or repeat payments out of the blue, talk to them about the nature of the payments and check they aren’t a scam.
Is it really the police calling?
Here’s another yet story of attempted fraud that we’ve not heard before. According to the Neighbourhood Watch Association, fraudsters are making phone calls to individuals saying they are the police and have arrested someone with that person’s details on them. Advice in this case is to immediately ask them their name, “collar number” and extension. Ring off. Call 101 and ask to be put through to the officer quoting the name, number and extension given. If genuine, the 101 desk will happily put you through. But in many cases they will not recognise the name or collar number and so you have prevented a potential fraud.
Scammers and the Coronavirus jab
And just a reminder – the Covid-19 vaccination is free. There are genuine-looking texts and messages arriving in the inboxes of older people suggesting that they should sign up for their vaccination, and then asking for a payment. Any such request needs to be ignored or reported.
Watching out for skin cancer
There has been a steady and significant increase in skin cancer in the over 35s, with men recording more cases, according to a British study. The report suggests that changes in behaviour are behind the increase, such as more time spent sunbathing, more holidays in places with stronger sunlight and the use of sunbeds.
The cost of car insurance loyalty
Shopping around every year for car insurance (or any other kind of insurance or utility for that matter) is arduous. But ridiculously, loyalty is expensive. According to recent data, car owners who simply renew with the same insurer are paying an average of £40 a year than they could be. While many have been promised lower prices this year because they’ve been using their cars less in the pandemic, a significant number have yet to receive their refunds.
Have you estimated your state pension correctly?
Which? consumer service has found that three in ten people are overestimating how much state pension they will receive. It’s not entirely surprising as pension age and allowances have been changing, and contracting out may have made a difference. You can check your pension forecast using the UK Government’sonline calculator.
Useful links to government guidance
UK Government guidance updates that you may find useful include:
- How health and care systems should support the safe and timely discharge of people who no longer need to stay in hospital
- Providing personal care to people in their own homes
- Update on the UK Government’s support for Scotland’s vaccine rollout
- Volunteering during the pandemic