Group fears a spike in deaths if care lockdown is eased
Care providers fear a spike in the number of care and nursing home deaths from coronavirus if lockdown restrictions are lifted too quickly.
Responding to today’s figures on the latest Covid-19 deaths in care and nursing homes, a provider group has urged caution.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said whilst some restrictions were being eased elsewhere, the battle against Covid-19 in homes was still raging.
There were 2,423 care home deaths linked to Covid-19 registered in the week ending 1 May, today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show. That is down from almost 2,800 for the week before. It was reported that for the first time, overall care home deaths exceeded hospital deaths during that week.
Meanwhile, however, social care market analysts Carterwood has warned that Covid-19 could increase care home deaths in the over-65s in England by as many as 36,000 in the coming year, based on its research.
ICG chair, Mike Padgham said: “Whilst today’s figures do demonstrate a downward trend, care providers are very conscious that death and sickness from coronavirus is still very real and frightening within care and nursing homes and that we must not ease up.
“Homes have to maintain lockdown restrictions, even though it might be frustrating for relatives and friends, because we are not through this yet, not by a long way.
“We must always remember that behind every statistic is a human loss, the tragic passing of a much-loved mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or friend.
“It is good news that death rates appear to be falling and that the Government is starting to ease lockdown measures. But as far as the situation in care and nursing homes is concerned, we have to stay as we are; otherwise we will get more and more deaths.
“What we also need now is some expert guidance from the Government on how we move forward, particularly over lifting restrictions on people visiting their loved ones. We have to be extremely cautious but our residents cannot remain in lockdown for ever.”
On Monday, the Office for National Statistics revealed that 86 women and 45 men working in social care had died from Covid-19 up to 20th April. This death rate was actually higher than for those working in healthcare.
Mr Padgham said the ONS figures seemed to show that social care workers have suffered worse death rates than those working in NHS care.
“The reasons might be varied,” he added. “The age profile for those working in care is higher so that might play a part. But the quality of the protective equipment we had in the early stages and the difficulties in sourcing that PPE, may also have played a part too. It is clear that workers in social care were not as well protected in the early days as those in NHS healthcare.”
The ICG has previously warned that care providers were being hampered in their fight against Covid-19 through a lack of PPE and insufficient testing. It has also called on the Government to provide better financial support for care providers amidst concerns that the £3.2bn pledged for local authorities to help them support social care is not getting to the front line.
Social care currently looks after 400,000 people in care and nursing homes – that is three times the number in NHS hospital beds. Social care looks after a further 640,000 people in their own homes.