Suffolk carers defended after criticism of coronavirus outbreaks in care homes
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Outbreaks of coronavirus in Suffolk care homes are not the fault of staff, an MP has said, after carers have come under fire from the general public.
As a county with an ageing population Suffolk has a higher proportion of care homes and has seen several Covid-19 outbreaks during the second wave.
In the seven weeks leading up to November 19 there were eight in East Suffolk care homes, five in Babergh, two in West Suffolk and one in Ipswich.
A total of 207 care home residents have died in Suffolk after contracting the virus.
However, following backlash from members of the public who have accused care staff of being at fault for the infections, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Dr Dan Poulter has defended them.
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“Outbreaks are not the staff’s fault,” he said. “They are not deciding to actively infect residents or each other.
“Around 75% of covid carriers are asymptomatic so won’t even necessarily know they have the virus.”
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Dr Poulter pointed out rapid hospital discharges are now known to have spread infection during the first wave and has called for testing twice a week to ensure staff can work more safely.
Prema Fairburn-Dorai is chairman of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers and said: “Despite the PPE, there are other ways infection spreads and there always will be.
“If you ask people if they want to come work in the care sector, they will say no because it’s a hard job. Staff shortages have now become the norm.
“We recruit every week and are lucky to get more than two or three interested – the shifts are all 12 hours long and workers are under a lot of stress and pressure.”
Mrs Fairburn-Dorai said the association has been unable to carry out its usual support meetings face to face and managers of homes have become more isolated during the crisis as a result.
Unison social care lead for Eastern England, Caroline Hennessy, said some carers have even been told they won’t be paid if they have to isolate with Covid symptoms.
“The pandemic has highlighted key issues within social care such as the low pay and lack of support.
“I completely defend the our social care members in Suffolk and the rest of the region.”