A group of charities has warned some people in care homes are being ‘abandoned to the worst that coronavirus can do’.
A letter signed by the leaders of the Alzheimer’s Society, Marie Curie, Age UK, Care England and Independent Age to health secretary Matt Hancock warns the deadly disease is causing ‘devastation’ in the care sector.
The signatories add they have been ‘inundated with desperate calls’ and some people in care homes are being ‘abandoned to the worst that coronavirus can do’.
The letter says as a first step that testing and personal protective equipment must be made available to care homes.
‘A lack of protective equipment means staff are putting their own lives at risk while also carrying the virus to highly vulnerable groups,’ the letter states.
‘Care professionals that have this equipment are using it in line with the guidelines – there’s just not enough getting through to the frontline. Care England estimates that there have been nearly a thousand deaths already, yet deaths from coronavirus in care homes are not being officially recorded or published, social care is the neglected frontline.’
The letter also demands any social care support package include priority testing for care home staff and people being discharged from hospital into care homes.
It also recommends the government publish a daily update on coronavirus deaths in the care system, just like deaths in the NHS, so that as a society we can understand the scale of the challenge we face.
‘Older people’s lives are not worth less. Care home staff are not second class carers,’ the letter adds.
‘The government must step in and make it clear that no-one will be abandoned to this virus simply because of their age, condition or where they live.’
Speaking on Easter Sunday (April 12), the Scottish health secretary, Jeane Freeman said more than 400 care homes have recorded cases or potential cases of COVID-19 in Scotland alone.
Responding to the letter, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘As we face this global pandemic we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need.
‘We have provided 7.8 million pieces of PPE to over 26,000 care homes including home care and hospices around the country. A further 34 million items of PPE were released last week, across 38 local resilience forums (LRFs), including 8 million aprons, 4 million masks and 20 million pairs of gloves.
‘The full weight of the government is behind this effort and we are working closely with industry and social care providers to make sure care staff have the protection they need to continue to deliver care safely.’
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