Coronavirus deaths in care homes could add 20% on Suffolk figure says care leader
PUBLISHED: 07:30 17 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:49 17 April 2020
The coronavirus death toll in Suffolk could be up to 20% higher than reported due to deaths at care homes, a leading care official has claimed.
David Finch, chairman of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers (SAICP) spoke after it was revealed that eight people had died at a care home in Suffolk over the past 10 days, all suspected to be connected with COVID-19.
He called on the government to increase testing to prevent further outbreaks, but tried to ease the concerns of those with family members who are in care homes.
Mr Finch, who is also managing director at Cephas Care, said: “I don’t think there should necessarily be any more concern over people in care homes than people in hospitals.
“When we have an outbreak in a care home we can isolate somebody, we can use PPE and staff would take care of the person so we are doing a lot of things.
“We also don’t have any non-essential visitors coming in, the staff are routinely checked and we have a number of ways of doing that.”
The care home manager welcomed the recent decision by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to increase testing, but warned that carers still did not have enough PPE to protect themselves while treating residents.
He said: “I think testing people before they leave hospital and are admitted to care homes will put a lot of people’s minds at rest.
“There will be a much higher level of testing which I obviously welcome because I think it has always been the key aspect of tackling this.
“The PPE situation has got a lot better since the county council received a big delivery from the government.
“It’s still not great, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot more the government need to do, but it has improved.”
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The number of deaths recorded at care homes, which have not been included in government statistics, has been a contentious issue nationally.
The government have enforced social distancing guidelines in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus however, some believe that without knowing the number of deaths at care homes, the true extent of the virus’ impact may not be known.
In Suffolk, more than 80 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus and Mr Finch thinks that a further 20% could have died in care homes without recorded.
He said: “If someone said to me there are 10-20% more deaths from care homes I wouldn’t be surprised.
“I don’t think we will ever know the true figures because I don’t think enough has been done.
“Without testing there is a presumption that anyone who dies has got to be COVID-19, but it could be something else.
“I think when you look at what has been reported, with eight deaths in one care home, that would indicate that 20% increase on the number of deaths that have been reported.”
The Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers help address the concerns of their 400 members by acting as a mediator between Suffolk County Council and care homes to resolve any issues.
Their chairman also praised the carers who are working tirelessly to assist those in home who need help.
“Don’t forget the carers,” he said.
“Sometimes carers are not always put on the same pedestal as NHS workers, but they are still out there risking their health to take care of people.
“We are so thankful to all our carers and what they are doing for us all.”
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