Care homes call for more support during pandemic

Care sector experts warn homes could close unless they are given more support during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 25 per cent of care homes in North Somerset have reported an outbreak of Covid-19 since May 14, according to Public Health England.

Despite promises from the Government that all carers can now be tested, results are taking up to a week to come back leaving homes struggling as staff self-isolate.

More: Nursing homes ‘days from crisis’ due to coronavirus.

Care home operators say anxiety levels of staff are increasing as they feel ‘scared’ and ‘vulnerable’.

Gordon Butcher, regional chairman of the Registered Nursing Home Association, said: “As this crisis lengthens our staffs’ anxiety levels are heightening. All homes have lost staff and providers are having to walk a very thin tightrope placating staff while maintaining a reasonable occupancy level.

“Several homes have had staff threaten to walk out if they took anymore hospital admissions. The tests are only 80 per cent accurate

“Staff are scared and feel very vulnerable. All nursing home staff are demanding to wear PPE all the time regardless of clinical need.

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“Providers are saying that although they are grateful for the £100 per week, it’s nowhere near covering virus-related costs if you include paying staff hazard money.”

North Somerset Council has approved a temporary rise to adult care provider fees to help them deal with the crisis – meaning all care home placements from the authority will benefit from a flat rate increase of £100 per week.

More: Council to appeal for more support for care providers.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed to match this figure until May 31, but care home owners say it does not come close covering the extra money they have to spend as a result of the pandemic.

Mr Butcher added: “Providers strongly feel they are still on their own.

“If greater focus is truly not given to nursing homes, then many homes will close because of growing empty beds making them financially no longer viable.

“With most homes refusing any admissions from hospitals you will see hospitals being bed blocked in numbers unprecedented.

“The political rhetoric must stop and action implemented that will begin to support nursing homes before it’s too late.”