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covid-19 updates

Latest News and Covid-19 Updates

See our COVID-19 Certificate | June 2020.
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Staying at home and away from others (Social Distancing).
Published 23rd March 2020.

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government has introduced three new measures.
Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
Closing certain businesses and venues.
Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.
Every person in the UK must comply with these new measures, which came into effect on Monday 23 March. The relevant authorities, including the police, have been given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
The government will look again at these measures after three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

1. Staying at home

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example, food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • one form of exercise a day, for example, a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape the risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

These reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

These measures must be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded. Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.
The Government has also identified a number of critical workers whose children can still go to school or their childcare provider. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home.

Critical workers and parents of vulnerable children may leave the house to take children to and from school or their childcare provider.

Other critical public services – such as social services, support for victims, support provided by the Department for Work and Pensions, or the justice system – should be provided and accessed remotely whenever possible, but you can leave the house to access them when physical attendance is absolutely necessary. House moves should be delayed unless moving is unavoidable.

2. Closing certain businesses and venues.

To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. More detailed information and exemptions can be found here, including the full list of those businesses and other venues that must close, but they include:

  • pubs, cinemas and theatres
  • all retail with notable exceptions – these closures include clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets
  • libraries, community centres, and youth centres
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities
  • communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms
  • places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families
  • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for
  • commercial/leisure use, excluding permanent residents, key workers and those providing emergency accommodation, for example for the homeless.
  • Other businesses can remain open and their employees can travel to work, provided they cannot work from home.

3. Stopping public gatherings.

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people.

There are only exceptions to this rule for very limited purposes:

  • where the gathering is of a group of people who live together – this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home
  • where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace

In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. This excludes funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.

4. Going to work.

As set out in the section on staying at home, you can travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

With the exception of the organisations covered above in the section on closing certain businesses and venues, the government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

Sometimes this will not be possible, as not everyone can work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to, from and for their work – for instance, if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services.

If you cannot work from home then you can still travel for work purposes, provided you are not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2-metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2-metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
As set out in the section on closing certain businesses and venues, the Government has published guidance on which organisations are covered by this requirement. Advice for employees of these organisations on employment and financial support is available at
At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows symptoms.

5. Delivering these new measures.

These measures will reduce our day to day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus.

Every citizen is instructed to comply with these new measures.

The government is, therefore, ensuring the police and other relevant authorities have the powers to enforce them where people do not comply.

If you leave your home or gather in public for any reason other than those specified, the police may:

Instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse.

Instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so
take you home – or arrest you – if you do not follow their instructions or where they deem it necessary.

The police will act with discretion and common sense in applying these measures and we expect the public to act responsibly, staying at home in order to save lives.

However, if the police believe that you have broken these rules – or if you refuse to follow their instructions – a police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice for £60 (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days). If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the amount will increase to £120 and double on each further repeat offence.

The government will keep this under review and will increase the penalties if it becomes clear that this is necessary to ensure compliance.

Similarly, a business or venue operating in contravention with these measures will be committing an offence. Local authorities (for example, Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers) will monitor compliance, with support from the police if appropriate. Businesses and venues that breach them will be subject to prohibition notices and fixed penalty notices. Businesses that continue to contravene the measures will be forced to close down.

For both individuals and companies, if you do not pay, you may also be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose potentially unlimited fines.

The measures set out in this guidance will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March, at which point the government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

Age UK is calling for the future of social care to be put on a sustainable financial footing urgently.

A paucity of social care support is costing the NHS £587 million overall, equivalent to £640,000 every day, or £27,000 every hour. These figures are based on the 917 days between the last general election on 8 June 2017 and the upcoming election on 12 December 2019.

This is due to many people staying in hospital for longer than is clinically necessary. One of the major reasons for people being kept in hospital is because it is unsafe for them to go home as there is no social care support available for them. This is recorded by the hospital as a delayed day.

Staying in hospital is much more expensive than being supported at home or in a care home. It can also erode older people’s confidence and lead to muscle wastage from staying in bed for long periods.

‘We are all paying the price for the inability of our politicians to fix social care’

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK said: “It is appalling that two and a half million bed days will have been lost to the NHS between the last election and this one, simply because there is not nearly enough social care available to allow older people to be safely discharged.

“The waste of money this represents is staggering, coming in at more than half a billion pounds, but the human cost is arguably even greater, with many older people finding this means their recovery and rehabilitation is seriously delayed or in the worst cases put out of reach altogether.”

She added: “We are all paying the price for the inability of our politicians to fix social care, whether you are waiting endlessly for a much-needed knee operation or facing hours of delay in A and E following an accident at home. When hospitals get jammed up because they can’t discharge older people the effects feed right the way through and mean there are no beds for new patients who need them.”
The average number of people kept in hospital after they were ready to be discharged because of inadequate social care, was 2,750 every day, over the period between the last general election and this upcoming one.

“Fixing this problem is not just the humane thing to do, it is the smart thing to do – it’s clearly ridiculous to not address it when it is more expensive to keep a person with dementia in hospital than for them to get the care they need and deserve.”

Changes to immigration system without addressing funding is irresponsible

UKHCA reacted strongly to the news that changes to the UK’s immigration system will not include a visa option for low-skilled migrant workers after Brexit and employers.

The Government’s proposals are that skilled workers wanting to come to the UK must have a job offer and a salary of £25,600 or more.

There is no recognition that social care needs to be able to recruit from overseas.
Currently, in England (where the figures are available) 16% of the homecare workforce are non-British nationals (7% from the EU). The proportions vary by Government regions and in London non-British nationals account for 38% of the workforce (note 1).

Failing to recognise the problems of recruitment and retention in social care, the Government has said that it wants to shift the focus of the economy away from relying on “cheap labour from Europe” and that employers will need to adjust.

UKHCA has made strong representations to the Migration Advisory Committee (note 2), saying that social care needs to be able to recruit from overseas in order to meet the growth in demand for social care. Otherwise, there could be significant implications for the health and wealth of the nation.

Colin Angel, Policy Director, UKHCA said:
“We are dismayed by the decision Government has made. Cutting off the supply of prospective careworkers under a new migration system will pave the way for more people waiting unnecessarily in hospital or going without care. Telling employers to adjust, in a grossly underfunded care system, is simply irresponsible.
“The Migration Advisory Committee has told Government it needs to sort out social care funding, but there is no sign of that on the horizon.”

UKHCA will continue to work with our colleagues in the Cavendish Coalition to ensure that the Government understands and acts in the interests of older and disabled people using social care.

Growth In Family Carers Propping Up The Care System.

NEW  New research reveals the growth in family carers caring for elderly relatives – and the price they pay.

The Social Market Foundation has calculated that there are 7.6 million people in the UK who provide unpaid care for a relative. That is 1 million more than in 2005. Almost 15% of adults now care for a relative.

Not only are more people caring, but family carers are undertaking more care. Among carers, the proportion providing 20 or more hours a week has increased from 24% to 28% between 2005 and 2015. On average family carers provide 19.5 hours per week of care.

Family carers provide 149 million hours of care each week. That is equal to the work of 4 million full-time paid care staff.

The SMF report, entitled Caring for Carers, was sponsored by Age UK and sets out new details about the people who are providing the care on which the country depends. It found:

  • Most carers are women: 59% of people caring for an elderly relative are women and 65% of people caring for a sick or disabled child are women.
  • 5% of women provide family care, this is up from 14.9% in 2005. The number of women carers has risen from 3.75 million to 4.45 million.
  • 4% of men provide family care, up from 12% in 2005. The number of men providing family care has risen from 2.82 million to 3.19 million.
  • Older people are more likely to be carers. 26% of women aged 55-59 provide care to a relative. Only 16% of men in the same age bracket do so.
  • After the age of 65, the gender gap on care closes 19% of women aged 65-69 provide care, which is the same proportion for men of the same age. Among over-70s, men are more likely to provide care, generally for wives and partners.

The report also shows how the jobs that carers do are changing, and reveals the impact that caring has on the careers of people in different occupations.

  • People working in management and professional occupations make up the largest occupational group of carers in employment.
  • The only occupational social class where the proportion of women providing care rose was management/professionals with 19% of women in professional jobs providing care, up from 18% in 2005.
  • The proportion of women in ‘routine’ occupations providing care fell, from 22% to 21%.
  • Carers are more likely to work less and earn less than those who do not have caring responsibilities.
  • Among people in employment aged 40-64, some 77% of non-carers work full time. Only 61% of high-hours carers have full-time jobs.
  • Caring is associated with lower pay: Carers earn 13% less per hour than non-carers.
  • Women who care earn 4% less than those who do not. Men who care earn 15% less than those who do not.
  • The typical (ie median) man aged 40-64 who does not provide care has a gross monthly income of £2,584. The typical man who provides family care while working is £2,167. That is a monthly difference of £417 or £5,004 per year.
  • For women, non-carers have median earnings of £1,500 while carers earn £1,450. The monthly difference is £50, or £600 per year.
  • Caring has a bigger impact on male earnings because they are more likely to be working full time and earning more before taking up their caring duties than women – reducing their hours of work or changing job, therefore, has a bigger impact on their earnings.

The SMF report makes a number of recommendations for the social care Green Paper, several of which are aimed at ‘nudging’ employers into offering more support for working carers:

  • Employees should record the number of their staff who have caring responsibilities.
  • ‘Care pay gap’ reporting could be required, where employers would publicly report the pay rates of staff with caring responsibilities and that of those of comparable staff without caring duties.
  • Big employers should be required to publish policies for supporting workers who care. Surveys suggest only 40% of large employers have policies setting out how managers should support carers.

The paper also suggests much greater use of ‘care navigators’ to help family carers guide elderly relatives through the complex system of public sector bodies likely to be involved in their overall package of care.

Age UK Highlight The Battle To Get Care At Home.

A report by Age UK, Behind the Headlines – the battle to get care at home’ shows that the provision of homecare services has decreased by 3 million hours since 2015. In some areas, councils were unable to provide basic care and support to older people, with assessed needs, because there was a ‘care desert’ and no care available for the council to purchase in the local area.

The publication presents the following issues that seem to be coming up time and again from all parts of the country: –

  • Long waits to get an assessment
  • Services that are disjointed or simply unresponsive
  • Social services refusing to get involved
  • Fundamental lack of capacity in the system
  • Poor quality services and support
  • Support and services being cut back
  • Help for families providing care being withdrawn

The charity noted that the average spend per adult on social care has fallen 13%, from £439 to £379, between 2009/10 and 2016/17 and said it was not surprising that over the same period around 400,000 fewer older people received social care.

Age UK has also said within the report that older people are experiencing a lack of continuity among carers. The charity received feedback from older people and families who are sent new care workers on such a regular basis that they rarely know who is going to show up on any given day.

Research Suggests Brexit Could Worsen Crisis in Social Care.

Ending free movement within the EU risks exacerbating the social care crisis, according to a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which warned that the UK’s third sector social care organisations were increasingly dependent on hiring EU workers to fill staffing gaps.

IPPR argues that the scale of the impact that Brexit could have on the charity sector workforce will depend on five core considerations: –

  1. The profile of the current EU charity workforce
  2. The future immigration system for EU nationals
  3. The immigration choices of EU nationals
  4. The future demand for EU charity workers
  5. The alternative for charity employers if they are unable to recruit from the EU.

The research found social care charities currently have 90,000 staff vacancies but 87% of all EU charity workers employed in social care would not qualify for work visas under conditions imposed on non-EU nationals. The IPPR suggested charities would be left: ‘facing a perfect storm of high employee churn, skills shortages, low pay, and increasing labour demand’

Call For Social Care To Be Free At The Point Of Need.

Lord Darzi, Professor of Surgery, chair of the Institute for Global Health Innovation at Imperial College, and former Labour Government minister has published his final report.

The Lord Darzi review, published by the Institute for Public Policy Research has put forward a 10-point plan for long-term funding as well as a 10-point offer to the public which sets out what the health and care system will be able to offer if his plan for investment and reform is adopted. The fourth point reads:

“Make social care free at the point of need. This means extending the NHS’s ‘need, not ability to pay’ principle to social care and fully funding the service as part of a ‘new social contract’ between the citizen and the state.”

Dismay At Delay Of Social Care Green Paper.

The Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, has confirmed that the social care Green Paper will be delayed. Speaking in Parliament, Jeremy Hunt said the Green Paper will be published in the autumn around the same time as the NHS plan. More than seven months ago, the government committed to publishing the paper before the summer recess this year.

The decision has been met with dismay and disappointment. Colin Angel, UKHCA’s Policy Director said,

‘It is very disappointing that the Government chose to announce the delay of the Green Paper on the day that we learned the NHS will receive an extra £20.5 billion. While the delay could allow more time to produce a stronger joined-up document, the Government cannot continue to ignore the deepening crises in social care services.’

Scheme Will Enable EU Citizens To Stay In UK After June 2021.

The Home Secretary has announced that EU citizens will have to complete three key steps to obtain settled status to stay in the UK after June 2021: prove their identity, show that that they live in the UK, and declare that they have no serious criminal convictions. The settlement scheme will operate online and via a smartphone app, and through libraries and special contact centres. Most decisions will be made within two weeks or sooner.

The scheme will be phased in from later in 2018 and be fully open by 30 March 2019, with the deadline for applications 30 June 2021.

Latest News and COVID-19 Updates

Latest News:  See our COVID-19 Certificate | May 2020.  View PDF

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