Care homes now UK’s coronavirus frontline, sector leaders say

Leaders in the sector have demanded greater medical help and said the peak of social care fatalities is yet to come.

Care UK reported 244 Covid-19 deaths in its facilities, a 74% rise in six days, including 18 deaths in a single home in north London where a care worker also died.

Four Seasons Health Care reported a 79% increase in deaths in two weeks, bringing its death toll to 286, while the UK’s largest private provider, HC One, announced a 50% increase in deaths in 10 days, to 616. Bupa, which operates 125 homes, revealed it had lost well over 200 residents with confirmed or suspected coronavirus.

The figures contrasted with the prime minister’s Downing Street speech on his first day back at work in which he declared: “We are now beginning to turn the tide.” Johnson highlighted “fewer hospital admissions, fewer Covid patients in ICU, and real signs now that we are passing through the peak”.

He added: “If this virus were a physical assailant – an unexpected and invisible mugger, which I can tell you from personal experience it is – then this is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor.”

Vic Rayner, the director of the National Care Forum, which represents charitable care home operators, said: “We are nowhere near a peak in care homes and this is absolutely the wrong time to turn away from actions to fight the virus.

“This isn’t a one-round fight. We need to make sure the care sector gets the resources it needs, and we haven’t yet seen the level of action we need to get this right. The frontline of this virus has moved into care homes and the clinical focus now needs to shift.”

Jeremy Richardson, the chief executive of Four Seasons, said: “We’re on the plateau rather than wrestling anything to the floor.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement on his first day back at work in Downing Street, London, after recovering from a bout with the coronavirus that put him in intensive care, Monday, April 27, 2020. The highly contagious COVID-19 coronavirus has impacted on nations around the globe, many imposing self isolation and exercising social distancing when people move from their homes. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)© ASSOCIATED PRESS British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement on his first day back at work in Downing Street, London, after recovering from a bout with the coronavirus that put him in intensive care, Monday, April 27, 2020. The highly contagious COVID-19 coronavirus has impacted on nations around the globe, many imposing self isolation and exercising social distancing when people move from their homes. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
The number of deaths across all care homes has been hard to pin down. Last week the Department of Health and Social Care said the official death toll in care homes in England had doubled in five days, to more than 2,000 by 15 April. Figures for that period will be confirmed by the Office of National Statistics on Tuesday alongside the release of Care Quality Commission data.

The current official estimates, which are equivalent to 10% of the deaths in NHS hospitals, appear to be out of line with the figures given by operators. The operators of 1,128 homes – 5% of the UK’s total – have reported more than 1,800 deaths to the Guardian.

Source: Theguardian.com

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