Care homes teetering on the verge of collapse under coronavirus pressure

Linda J. Dodson

Families of the half a million people living in care homes face a “ticking time bomb”, as providers admit they cannot cope with the extra pressures and costs that coronavirus is heaping on them.

Many are concerned their loved ones – the vast majority of whom are considered particularly at risk from the pandemic – are not getting adequate protection, despite shelling out tens of thousands of pounds a year in fees. Some may find themselves paying even more soon, as a number of care providers have said they will have to raise their fees to recoup costs, or risk going bust.

If homes are bankrupted, families may struggle to rehouse their relatives at short notice during lockdown, said Professor Martin Green, of Care England, a charity. “Many care homes have already started refusing new admissions as they don’t have the resources to cope or because they’re having to offer up beds to patients being discharged from hospitals,” he said.

Often, patients are discharged without being tested, meaning they may bring coronavirus back to care homes. Prof Green described the crisis as “a ticking time bomb”.

Spreading like wildfire 

Coronavirus has already ripped through a number of care homes. At one in Glasgow, 13 residents lost their lives in just a week, while 15 have died with the virus in one Luton home.

Mark Topps, manager of Eastern County Care, a care provider in Essex, warned that the virus will spread through homes like wildfire if staff aren’t given more personal protective equipment (PPE). He said that gloves, face masks and hand sanitisers are almost impossible to come by and suppliers are charging extortionate amounts for them.

“I have spoken to staff [from other homes] who are out of equipment altogether,” said Mr Topps.

The cost of the crisis 

Care providers are also having to deal with staff shortages, take on agency workers and manage complex medical issues themselves as most GPs have stopped doing in-house visits.

Anita Astle, director of nursing home Wren Hall, said she may be forced out of business within a month, leaving an uncertain future for her facility’s 50 or so residents.

“Our costs are now at least seven times more than what they were before the outbreak. We just don’t have the cash to care for residents. This is going to bankrupt us,” said Ms Astle. When a care home closes, usually residents have to find somewhere new themselves or the council take over.

Other providers have said they will only be able to survive by raising fees. Stephen Crisp, from The Optima Care Partnership, said his costs had spiked since the outbreak. This will pile extra pressure on families who are already having to pay between £27,000 and £39,000 a year on average, according to research firm LaingBuisson.

Losing loved ones 

The situation for families has been made even more painful by the fact they can no longer visit their loved ones.

Gary Lemin was unable to see his 80-year-old father before he died after contracting coronavirus. “As soon as I heard the virus was in his nursing home, I knew what would happen,” said Mr Lemin, 53. “I went to deliver a package and saw the carers had woefully insufficient PPE.”

However, Mr Lemin said he did not blame the home, Roseland Court in Cornwall. “Anyone would struggle in those circumstances,” he said.

Although the family had so far been able to stump up the fees, at more than £1,000 a week, Mr Lemin said that, had his father needed another year of care, they would have had to sell his house. “He was a typical tight Cornishman and hated paying,” said Mr Lemin. “If fees go up even more because of this, some families will really struggle.”

At-home care stretched to the limit

Those with relatives who need care but are not yet receiving it also face difficulties, said Andrew Farley, of Care to Be Different, which offers free advice on NHS care funding. “There’s so much demand in terms of finding a carer to come to your home,” he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said supporting both the NHS and care providers was a priority and that it was currently delivering PPE to care homes and hospices and reinstating 8,000 former social workers so they can fill vital roles in local communities.

A spokesman for HC-One, which runs Roseland Court, said that its sympathies were with all families who had lost loved ones to coronavirus and that it was doing everything it could to make sure residents and employees were safe. It added that all of its homes had good supplies of PPE.

If you have been affected by the coronavirus care crisis, email [email protected]

Additional reporting by Cara McGoogan. 

Source Article

Next Post

Coronavirus latest: Millions of Indonesians face plunge into poverty

The Nikkei Asian Review is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Global cases have reached 1,776,867, according to the World Health Organization. The worldwide death toll has hit 111,828. To see how the disease has spread, click this interactive virus […]