Social care is at the frontline of this cruel global pandemic here in the UK and around the world. We have brought together support across Government, the NHS, Public Health England, local health protection teams, the Care Quality Commission and local authorities, and done our utmost to help care homes and home care services to look after those in their care. The majority of care providers have been covid-free. Our support includes access to testing, PPE, guidance based on evidence from around the world, improved oversight and funding.
I have received many emails from constituents who are desperate to see and visit their family members in care homes, after months of not seeing them. Will my hon. Friend assure me and care workers in Ashfield and Eastwood that the Government will do everything they can to ensure that care homes have the right support and guidance, so that they are prepared to deal with an influx of friends and family visitors as they begin to open their doors in a safe way?
My hon. Friend makes an important point. I know that the current restriction on visiting is hard for residents in care homes and their families, and has a real impact on health and wellbeing. We are updating our visitor guidance and intend to publish it soon.
I, too, wish the Minister a very happy birthday.
I am sure the Minister will agree that lessons must be learned from what has happened so far, because the virus is not over for social care. With 13,375 deaths from covid-19 in care homes, what does she think she should have done differently?
The hon. Lady is absolutely right that there will be a time when we will look back and learn lessons, and I wish that not so many people had died in social care, but right now we are looking ahead. We are making sure that we have in place the plans to support the social care sector through the months ahead, and we are also pressing ahead with work on social care reform.