A WEST Belfast-based homecare provider has been commended for committing staff to embattled care homes.

Connected Health, which is based  in West Belfast, is one of the North’s largest homecare providers  and provides more than 1.3 million homecare visits per year. It has announced that all of their available spare staffing capacity is ready for redeployment in care homes across the Northern, Western, South Eastern and Belfast Health Trusts.

Health chiefs have publicly praised Connected Health for taking this initiative in the battle against the effects of Covid-19 on healthcare, as staffing challenges intensifies in care homes.

Sean Holland, Northern Ireland's Chief Social Worker, said: “I want to commend Connected Health for this collaborative approach, which I am certain will be greatly appreciated by other providers.

“I am determined that the Department, Trusts, PHA and Board will continue to play their part in the days and weeks ahead, and that includes supporting Independent Social Care Providers like Connected Health. We really are all in this together.

FRONTLINE: Connected Help home-carers Lois McCallan, Julie Cordner, Judith Marcus and Martina Graham
FRONTLINE: Connected Help home-carers Lois McCallan, Julie Cordner, Judith Marcus and Martina Graham

“A partnership approach is absolutely vital at this time right across all aspects of health and social care.

“That includes partnerships working across the statutory and independent sectors, and between individual home care providers.”

Ryan Williams, Director of Connected Health, said: “Combined with strong recruitment, we are in the odd position of having significant surplus care capacity in many parts of Northern Ireland. We believe it is only right that we offer that capacity to our friends and colleagues within care homes across the region.”

Connected Health, whose staff are seeing first-hand the devastating impact of the virus on vulnerable and older people, has deployed dedicated Covid-19 teams to help suppress the transmission of the virus from symptomatic clients to healthy clients. The specialist teams are working across the Northern, Western and Belfast Trusts.

Mr Williams added: “Obviously, we have not been unaffected by Covid-19. From our 700 staff, we have had nine employees who tested positive and sadly, three of our more than 2,000 clients have died after contracting the virus. However, infection trends across our client base remain much lower than models predicted earlier in the pandemic.

“The nature of homecare is that clients are in essence already self-isolated and that –  combined with effective delivery by our diligent, brave and dedicated care staff – has maximised the protection of our clients during the lockdown scenario.

“Homecare has proven itself to be an effective method to deliver essential care to older people, whilst at the same time minimising the cross infection and transmission risks. The ability to isolate symptomatic staff quickly, deliver efficient testing and deploy healthy staff back to rota has worked well during the pandemic to date."