Fears that care home residents could be at ‘great risk’ as authorities fail to help

A CARE home manager fears he may have to work without any protective equipment if Covid-19 were to break out, as the council refuses to give equipment unless there’s a suspected case.

Mark Topps, a manager at Little Wakering House, in Little Wakering, said staff and residents could be at great risk from Covid-19 unless the government steps up its support to care homes.

The home had been attempting to purchase visors but they have had no support from Essex County Council who have told him the only way he can get them is if there is either a suspected or confirmed case in the home.

Waiting until this point risks a delay between when the person showing symptoms and the appropriate equipment arriving to allow care to be delivered safely.

He says they have been left scrambling to find protective equipment for staff after being offered no help.

“I would personally not leave anyone with limited care,” he added.

“Without the PPE in place to plan for the worst case scenario, I would be delivering care without PPE and risking myself getting the virus.

“The resident would be isolated where possible however due to most of the residents’ diagnosis in my service they do not understand self-isolating and will in no doubt wander or come out of their rooms increasing the risk of it spreading further.

“I do worry without PPE in place in preparation, residents of care homes and its staff are at huge risk.”

The concerns come after the leading charity Age UK said the government is “airbrushing older people out” of official statistics and accused health secretary Matt Hancock of neglecting care home workers.

Last month Mr Topps launched an online petition urging the Government to offer tests to all care home workers. It has been signed by almost 280,000 people.

“We have always had to purchase protective equipment ourselves, however due to the coronavirus the demand for this has increased dramatically.

“The government provided each care home in the UK with 300 masks, however these only lasted six days.

“Since then we have not been provided any more and have been told it is the responsibility of each company to source their own supply.

“We have also seen a huge increase in the pricing of gloves, masks, aprons, shoe covers etc. I believe this is due to the cost from suppliers.”

An Essex County Council, spokesman, said: “The county council has and continues to support care homes with provision of PPE where this is most needed and in line with the Essex Resilience Forum guidelines.

“If a care home is in critical need, we can get supplies to them on the same day.

“It’s no secret that there have been issues with the supply of PPE nationally, which is something that the Government is urgently addressing and it is therefore vital that we carefully manage PPE supplies locally as a result.

“Care homes have been issued with guidance around ECC’s provision of PPE, which sets out how demand is being managed.

“Each care home was issued with 300 face masks by the Government a few weeks ago and the council has received a further, interim allocation of PPE from the Government which is being used to support urgent need.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter