Coronavirus, care homes and Sidmouth

As the scale of Britain’s elderly care catastrophe emerges, it is clear that the sector spent far too long simply struggling to be heard.

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The Sid Valley has got one of the highest populations of elderly people in the country:

Sidmouth is singled out as one of the towns facing the biggest increase in the elderly

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Firstly, this means that one of the highest areas of employment in this area is care workers:

Futures Forum: Jobs and services: caring for the elderly

Many of whom are migrant workers, unseen but in our midst:

Futures Forum: Brexit: and cheap labour for the hospitality and care industries

And they are currently facing huge risks:

VIRUS FIGHT NHS warns hospitals BAME staff should be taken off frontline for their safety | thesun.co.uk

Coronavirus: Care home staff struggling to get tests | bbc.co.uk

Diary of a care worker: Daily battle faced by those treating the elderly in nursing homes during the coronavirus crisis is revealed in heartbreaking journal | dailymail.co.uk

Secondly, a large elderly population means that we have a lot of residential homes in the Sid Valley – and those who live in thems are also extremely vulnerable.

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Here is comment from today from the county councillor for Seaton, who’s also on the health committee:

The epidemic hit some local care homes badly after developing in East Devon in March – but the lockdown stopped a wider spread. | seatonmatters.org

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His comment traces things back to Italy, where care homes have been particularly badly hit:

The ‘massacre’ of Italy’s elderly nursing home residents | trtworld.com

Doctors were warning of this a month ago – as noted back here in the UK:

Italy is priming ‘biological bombs’ by sending coronavirus-positive hospital patients to care homes to recover, doctors warn | dailymail.co.uk

Similar figures are found for Spain – as noted by the BBC today:

Coronavirus: Searching for truth behind Spain’s care home tragedy | bbc.com

And it is likely this will be the reality for the rest of Europe – including the UK:

Coronavirus: Care homes could be where over half of Europe’s COVID-19 deaths occur, says new study | euronews.com

Today’s news confirms this fear:

More people may now be dying of coronavirus in care homes than hospitals: Expert’s shock claim as Government braces to reveal the true daily death toll from this afternoon | dailymail.co.uk

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This is from a very damning report from the Financial Times from last week:

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Inside UK care homes: why the system is failing its coronavirus test

Frail residents in overwhelmed sector emerge as the hidden victims of the Covid-19 crisis

Four weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson locked the UK down, the frail residents of the country’s 11,300 care homes have emerged as the hidden victims of an overwhelmed, underprepared system plagued by shifting guidelines that some experts fear have had lethal consequences. Although the homes were quick to warn authorities about a shortage of protective gear and testing, they say their concerns were ignored as the virus began to spread.

“It was a mistake not to prioritise care homes from the start,” said Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, a charity which represents the large care home chains. “We knew the 430,000 people in care homes included some of the most vulnerable people.”

Nearly 11,000 more people than normal have died in UK care homes since the start of the outbreak, analysis by the Financial Times suggests, a far larger number than the latest official estimate of 1,043 Covid-related deaths in England and Wales.

The UK is not the only country where the virus has torn through retirement homes, where many residents already suffer from long-term health conditions, and shared dining tables and living rooms can make a mockery of social distancing rules. Inquiries into care home deaths have already begun in countries including the US, Canada, France, Italy and Spain, where residents were found abandoned or dead last month.

Up to half the coronavirus-related deaths in Europe are occurring in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday, adding that “deeply concerning” data pointed to “an unimaginable human tragedy”.

Covid-19 has laid bare underfunded care systems across the world. But as the scale of Britain’s elderly care catastrophe emerges, it is clear that the sector spent far too long simply struggling to be heard….

Inside UK care homes: why the system is failing its coronavirus test | ft.com

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In these parts, the number of cases is increasing –  but the figures are very difficult to read, as reported today by Devon Live:

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One in six care homes in Devon and Cornwall have had coronavirus outbreaks

Latest Public Health England figures show that 117 suspected or confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19 at care homes across the region have been reported.

Care homes are only be included in the dataset once, and if they have reported more than one outbreak, only the first is included in this dataset.

This dataset contains no indication of whether the reported outbreaks are still active, and each weekly total refers to reports in the period Tuesday to the following Monday.

No information about deaths in care homes is provided in the dataset, although ONS information published yesterday showed that 68 deaths had occurred in care homes up until April 17.

One in six care homes in Devon and Cornwall have had coronavirus outbreaks | devonlive.com

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Meanwhile, volunteers are doing what they can:

Sidmouth interior designer makes face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 | eastdevonnews.co.uk

Coronavirus: Group making scrubs for medical workers in East Devon appeals for funding | sidmouthherald.co.uk

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The lack of provision for care homes is parallel to what’s been happening to other sectors of the caring industries, – and this has a long history.

As in ‘care in the community’ and hospital services:

Futures Forum: The Homecare Deficit: “An admission that ‘care in the community’ is failing miserably – at a time when care in community hospitals is being slashed beyond the bone.” (October 2016)

Or retirement housing for the not so well-off:

Futures Forum: Making millions on ‘high-quality specialist retirement accommodation’ in Sidmouth, rather than spending on S106 cash for affordable housing (October 2016)

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project >>> and comparisons with other proposals for sheltered housing for the elderly in Sidford >>> A planning officer recommended the application be refused as it still did not include ‘an adequate amount of affordable housing’ or a ‘provision of an overage clause’. (April 2018)

Futures Forum: Proposals for sheltered housing for the elderly in Sidford > Inspector tells developers to pay full affordable housing contribution (April 2019)

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photo: Meeting residents at Abbeyfield Care Homes in Muswell Hill… | Flickr

   
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