Norfolk County Council is to receive £12.38m as part of a support package for the care sector to help keep staff and residents safe amid the pandemic.

The council and NHS  has teamed-up to help the industry manage the COVID-19 outbreak and have access to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE).

The government has asked councils to draw up a support plan and has allocated £600m to help the care sector.

The council said so far, there had been 113 COVID-19 cases at Norfolk care homes representing around 32 per cent – the regional average being 42 per cent.

Bill Borrett, council cabinet member for adult social care and public health and chairman of Norfolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said the money would go “straight to care homes to support them” as they were the “new frontline” of efforts to tackle the virus.

“We’re working to support care providers and their residents and staff jointly with the NHS. We have a virtual incident room, which enables us to respond quickly to prevent or manage outbreaks and help providers to access testing and PPE,” he said.

Chief nurse of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, Cath Byford, said: “We have offered support and training to care providers for a long time and we are enhancing that in the light of COVID-19, such as additional infection control training to roll out to staff. We also have teams of community staff carrying out testing in care homes across Norfolk and Waveney.” 

Norfolk Care Association director, Christine Futter, added: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with both Norfolk County Council and NHS partners to ensure the views of adult social care providers inform the local response to the pandemic.

“This package is wide ranging and reflects the need for immediate action as well as bespoke responses to individual provider needs. 

“The focus here is on care homes, but we are mindful of the amazing work being done by all social care providers and will continue to raise the need for appropriate support across the entire social care system.”

The council said testing at care homes was being prioritised for those with residents aged over 65, those with 50 or more beds and those near to areas with known outbreaks of coronavirus.