Cllr Veronica Jones: Support for the county’s most vulnerable is ongoing despite crisis

During this period of national crisis, support for the most vulnerable people in Northumberland is more important than ever. That is why we are working hard to ensure their needs are met.

Northumberland has many vulnerable residents including those who are ‘shielding’ on government advice because they have health issues; older people, either those at home and needing support or those who live in residential homes; and residents with physical or mental health issues, some of whom live at home and use our day centres, or those who live in supported housing.

The county council has been working to support all of these groups.

-‘Shielded’ residents are those who have been advised on health grounds to isolate completely. The government is supporting them to ensure they have food delivered when they need it. The Council’s Community Hub is ensuring this is achieved. We are liaising with supermarkets and delivering food boxes and supplies directly to those in need. They are also supporting those struggling financially in the same way, with the help of local food banks and their support groups.

-There are local support groups across the county who have provided invaluable help. Hundreds of volunteers have ensured that vulnerable people are receiving prescriptions and food, as well as other services, and anyone in need can still sign up to request support from one of the council’s volunteers.

-Council-run day centres for working age adults with physical and mental issues were closed at the start of the outbreak as parents and carers wanted to keep their family members safe. Despite this, we are supporting them at home when needed to ensure families have had the help to manage and we are continuing to ensure that those living in supported accommodation are safe.

-Providing adult social care during this difficult period has proven especially challenging but thanks to the tremendous work of dedicated staff, we are looking after our most vulnerable citizens. Thousands of older people in our county - parents, grandparents and neighbours - simply could not manage without them and it has been testament to these organisations and their staff that they have been able to maintain the essential care and support to those in need.  
-Early on in the pandemic, private care providers in Northumberland struggled to source Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Our council recognised how important this was for our care providers and residents, so we went beyond other councils in sourcing the PPE carers needed whether they were council-run services or not. A lot of this vital equipment was generously donated from local businesses, who were motivated only by a desire to help out in their community!

-We have continued to keep in very regular contact with our care homes and home care providers to ensure that they have the PPE they need to control infection and continue testing. Although Northumberland care homes have not been Covid free, almost two thirds of the homes we commission have not had any cases at all.

It has been an uphill challenge, but together we have ensured that the county’s most vulnerable have had the support they need, despite the ongoing crisis.