Carers' relief as Covid restrictions ease in Suffolk

Care Home Chief, Prema Fairburn-Dorai. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chair of Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, described the restrictions easing as a 'good thing' - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The easing of Covid-19 restrictions has been met with a cautious welcome by carers in Suffolk, although not without concerns about a growing number of outbreaks in care homes.

Figures from Suffolk County Council reveal that across three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Ipswich and East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Waveney, there were 93 reports of outbreaks in care homes in the week to January 26, compared with 89 in the week to January 19. 

Prior to Christmas, only 14 outbreaks were reported across the CCGs during the week to December 22.

Yesterday, the Government announced that from Monday there will be no limit on the number of visitors to care homes, self-isolation periods will be cut and care homes will only have to follow outbreak management rules for 14 instead of 28 days. 

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chair of Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, which supports carers, feared the changes could cause more outbreaks by making it easier for the virus to spread.

Other concerns included staffing, with those testing positive still self-isolating and money as the care sector is struggling financially due to having to meet the cost of measures to deal with the pandemic. 

David Finch, managing director of Cephas Care, which has three homes in Suffolk and Norfolk, said: “We will follow the regulations as stated in the government guidance. We have to trust that the regulations are correct and I think it has been quite detrimental to restrict visits to care homes and given that society has been open for some time now, I think it is quite unfair that care homes have been restricted to three visitors.” 

David Finch, managing director of Alpha Nurseries which has six sites in the Ipswich area, said soci

David Finch, managing director of Cephas Care - Credit: Cephas Care

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Currently, 50 of the 540 staff at Cephas Care are in self-isolation. 

Mr Finch added: “I am happy that the easing is proportionate to where we are in the pandemic and that is what we have always looked at as an organisation.” 

Ms Fairburn-Dorai wanted more financial support for the sector from the Government to improve wages and meet the costs of the pandemic. 

However, she said: “To be honest, it is a good thing because we don’t want residents to be lonely because we went through really bad times, but we will have to exercise caution to control the spread of infection.”