A LOCAL authority has agreed to launch an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on its services for the most vulnerable residents as it emerged recent weeks had seen “a vastly improved picture” at borough’s care homes and domiciliary care settings.

Darlington Borough Council’s adult scrutiny committee will examine how the adult social care service coped during the pandemic, how service users and their families found them, and any changes which need to be made as a result.

Since the beginning of the year, care homes in Darlington have had 386 deaths registered in total and 78 of these have been attributable to Covid-19. Some 48 of the deaths occurred in hospital and 26 in care homes. This equates to a rate of 73 deaths attributable to Covid-19 for every 100,000 people.

The inquiry was announced as it emerged processes to limit the spread of the virus in care homes appeared to be “working well”.

Officers said the reintroduction of visits had not led to outbreaks of the virus at care homes.

Councillors heard because care homes were continuing to test visitors and staff on a regular basis and there were no plans to change that regime in the foreseeable future, visitors had been welcomed at every care home in the borough.

Meanwhile, officers said some 95 per cent of staff working in the borough’s care homes, domiciliary care, extra care and services for older people have received their first vaccination, which they said was “a very healthy picture compared with other local authority areas”.

Alongside this, all care home residents have now received their second vaccination.

However, councillors were told to limit the spread of the virus Darlington had received £800,000 towards infection control in the care sector from the Government. While most of the funding will be distributed to meet Whitehall guidelines, the meeting was told the council would direct some 20 per cent of it to care providers that had been hit hardest by the virus.

Proposing the inquiry, Councillor Bryony Holroyd said: “I think it’s very important to review how the services went, whether there’s something we should change, whether there’s anything we would want to keep even after Coronavirus because some people may chose to keep their services delivered in the way that it is now.”