Virus 'ripping through' Weston care homes

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Eleven care homes in Weston have been hit by Covid outbreaks. - Credit: Pixabay

Eleven care homes in Weston are suffering from coronavirus outbreaks. 

Care home owners say the new strain of the virus is 'ripping through homes at a scary rate’ leaving staff fatigued and constantly on edge. 

Gordon Butcher, regional chairman of the Registered Nursing Home Association, said: “The care sector in Weston is a small community so care staff get to know when another nursing home has contracted the virus, and this new strain is hitting the sector far worse than the first wave last year. 

“We do daily LFD (lateral flow device) testing on staff and we all hold our breath waiting on the test to show the red line while thinking ‘is it me next?’  My staff are telling me they can't sleep, they're not eating properly and constantly edgy with family members, but not one has resigned. 

“Remember, many of these care assistants get paid the minimum wage, yet their unrelenting commitment and courage is worthy of far higher incomes.” 

Public Health England figures shows Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes almost tripled in the three weeks to January 10 as the winter wave was heightened by the new strain. 

Mr Butcher added: “Like the NHS staff, it’s been a long 10 months and care staff are fatigued and increasingly stressed; keeping up a 100 per cent perfection rate in cross infection practices is becoming difficult as the time goes on.  

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“Minor mistakes are bound to be made after all this time, and that one slip can be enough for this new virus strain to hit. The pressure is unrelenting.

“Every nursing home provider I speak with echoes that they are resigned to the raw fact their only hope is the vaccine immunity is enough to stop the virus hitting their home.” 

The vast majority of care home staff and residents in Weston have now received the first dose of the vaccine. 

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group says it is working closely with North Somerset Council and Public Health England to manage outbreaks in care homes and provide infection advice. 

People discharged into care facilities from hospital are tested before admission, and then routinely tested alongside staff.

A CCG spokesman said: “We know that a rise in coronavirus cases within the community increases the chances of infections spreading into our care homes.

"While there is strict infection prevention measures in place in care homes, we continue to urge everyone to take personal responsibility to help stop the spread of this deadly virus."

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