More than half of care homes in England have reported at least one case of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to new figures out today.
The figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are part of a survey of more than 9,000 care homes, as part of the Vivaldi study.
After analysing the figures, the ONS estimates 56% of care homes have reported at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
And across the care homes that reported at least one case, the ONS estimates one in five (20%) of residents have tested positive for COVID-19, as reported by care home managers.
The ONS also believes 7% of staff working in those care homes have also tested positive for the disease.
Care home managers were also asked how many residents had died having contracted COVID-19.
The ONS now estimates this figure to be 15,606 deaths.
The survey also found some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infections amongst residents.
These include prevalence of infection in staff, the more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and some regional differences.
The survey also noted there is some evidence that in care homes where staff receive sick pay, there are lower levels of infection in residents.
Responding to the survey results, UNISON’s senior national officer Gavin Edwards said: ‘This appalling death toll is yet more evidence care was left high and dry when the pandemic hit.
‘Many elderly residents were at the mercy of the virus and low-paid care staff were poorly protected.
“The best run homes pay employees full wages to workers off sick. In others, ill staff are effectively forced into turning up for work because they can’t survive with no money coming in.
“If ever there was a time for urgent and comprehensive reform of the care sector, it’s now,’ added Mr Edwards.
The results of the survey were published as the government announced staff and residents in care homes for over 65s and those with dementia will receive regular coronavirus tests from next week, as part of a new social care testing strategy.
‘It is our priority to protect care residents and staff and testing is a crucial part of that. That’s why from Monday residents will be offered monthly tests, and staff will be tested every week. This is so important as it means care workers can be sure they are providing the very best care without worrying if they are carrying the virus themselves,’ said care minister, Helen Whately.
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