Community care providers across the UK “are down to about 24 hours’ worth of PPE” for their staff, Sky News has learned.
Mark Adams, chief executive of social care provider Community Integrated Care (CIC), says during a group call with “about 25 chief executives from the social care sector”, many revealed they were dangerously short of protective equipment.
Mr Adams told Sky News: “They then have the ethical dilemma of what do you do when you run out?
“Do you still allow your staff to work into a building when they have no protection whatsoever?”
In a daily COVID-19 Downing Street press conference last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that supporting the social care sector was “a priority”.
But Mr Adams argues that help has come too late.
He says: “We’ll see two things happening, we’ll see stories of incredible bravery as people go above and beyond to help the vulnerable. But we’re also going to see some tragedies.”
Community Integrated Care provides support for around 800,000 vulnerable people across the UK, the majority of that is in-home support for working-age adults with learning disabilities.
James Brooks, 27, from Middlesbrough lives with a learning disability.
He lives in a home setting which is supported 24 hours, seven days a week by social care staff.
“I’m a bit lost now because I don’t have a routine,” Mr Brooks told Sky News. “I do get quite depressed about certain situations, but the staff have helped me a lot to try and come up with things to do.
“Otherwise, I’d just be in my room the whole time and that’s not a good thing.”
During our visit, Mr Brooks’ support worker, Kay, plays a game of swing-ball with him in the garden, encourages him to play on his drum kit and helps him make a cup of tea.
It is assistance that relies on there being a degree of proximity between carers and those that they support.
Some staff have already made huge sacrifices.
“I’ve had two members of staff who have moved into a service with someone that we support that is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms,” Kelly Winham, CIC’s Regional Manager for the North East told Sky News.
“We’re not in hospitals, we’re not frontline in that way, but we are very much frontline in our local communities.”