Care homes struggling to effectively isolate residents, says survey

More than half of care homes cannot effectively isolate residents who are suspected to have Covid-19, an Alzheimer’s Society survey has found.

The charity has said the lives of people with dementia were being put in danger and has called for weekly testing of all care home staff and residents.

Its survey also found a third (32.4%) have taken in Covid-19 positive residents who have been discharged from hospital; four in ten (42.9%) are not confident of their protective equipment supply going forward, either independently sourced or from their local authorities; and a quarter (25.5%) felt residents should have been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and have not.

Respondents to the survey, which involved 105 care home managers and took place between 30 April and 12 May, said they had not received financial support from local authorities or clinical commissioning groups and that accessing tests for residents had been ‘extremely difficult’.

Three-quarters (75.2%) of respondents said GPs had been reluctant to visit residents, while half (51.9%) were having to verify the cause of death because GPs were not visiting care homes.

Alzheimer’s Society’s chief executive Kate Lee said: ‘It’s tragically clear care homes were left to fend for themselves against coronavirus, and unfortunately still are. Despite the heroic efforts of care workers, the precious lives of people with dementia and all those in homes are still being put in danger. Seventy percent of people in care homes have dementia, and right now it feels like they are being written off.

‘Social care has to be an equal priority with the NHS in this crisis, and all care home staff and residents should now be getting tested at least once a week to get the virus under control.’

Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged an extra £600m for infection control in care and nursing homes.

On Monday, a new online portal for care homes to arrange deliveries of coronavirus test kits was launched.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the additional testing capacity was delivering ‘many thousands of tests a day for residents and staff in care homes.’

He added: ‘This new portal allows those who book tests for staff and residents to do so even more easily, and it also offers a route for the prioritisation of care homes with the greatest need.

‘We will continue to grow our testing capacity, as we know the certainty and confidence that high quality testing can provide.’

The Local Government Association has said nearly half of the first allocation of £1.6bn given to councils in March, to deal with the immediate impact of the pandemic across all council services, has been allocated to adult social care but added additional resources would be needed to support social care and other services.