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Care homes ‘doing everything they can in upsetting times’ as two more deaths confirmed

PUBLISHED: 18:44 15 April 2020 | UPDATED: 18:51 15 April 2020

Care homes are

Care homes are "doing all they can" in upsetting times, Suffolk's social care boss said Picture: Bernat Armangue/AP Photos

Suffolk’s adult social care boss has said we are living in “upsetting times” and reassured people that care home staff are doing all they can to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Finborough Court in Great Finborough Picture: GOOGLE MAPSFinborough Court in Great Finborough Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Her remarks follow the news that eight deaths at Finborough Court near Stowmarket are being linked to coronavirus, and another two deaths were confirmed at the Britten Court Care Home in Lowestoft.

It comes as eight care homes across Suffolk are understood to be tackling outbreaks.

Rebecca Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult social care at Suffolk County Council, said care and nursing homes are on the front line in the response to Covid-19.

“These are upsetting times within which we are living, and my sincere condolences and thoughts are with the families and friends who have lost loved ones,” she said.

Six deaths have now been confirmed at Britten Court in Lowestoft Picture: CARE UKSix deaths have now been confirmed at Britten Court in Lowestoft Picture: CARE UK

MORE: Eight deaths at care home linked to coronavirus

“Our care and nursing homes are on the frontline in our response to coronavirus as they care for some of our most vulnerable people.

“I want to reassure people care providers are doing everything that they can to reduce the spread of infection where this arises and they are continuing to care for their residents with kindness and professionalism.”

Amid reports of shortages, Mrs Hopfensperger said every care home in Suffolk that has so far requested emergency protective equipment (PPE) has been provided with it.

Providers urgently needing PPE are asked to email the council here.

Last week, the county council said it had been lobbying the government for more stock with a large delivery received – which has since been distributed to care settings.

MORE: ‘I don’t sleep’ – Manager says care homes ‘are being forgotten’ in coronavirus crisis

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has just announced in today’s national press conference that a supply network of “unprecedented scale” would help get PPE to care home staff.

He also confirmed coronavirus tests will soon be provided for staff and residents who need them.

He said: “I am determined to ensure that everyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to have access to one.”

Currently, only the first five symptomatic residents in a care home setting are tested to confirm if there is an outbreak.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock arriving at Downing Street, London Picture: Aaron Chown/PA WireSecretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock arriving at Downing Street, London Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

‘Additional strain and uncertainty’

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of independent watchdog Healthwatch Suffolk, said he is aware of the additional strain and uncertainty care home providers are facing during the Covid-19 crisis.

“We can’t stress enough how difficult and challenging these times are, and our thoughts are very much with everyone concerned,” he said.

“We are aware of the additional strain and uncertainty care home providers – both residential and nursing – are experiencing during this time, particularly around the challenges of access to appropriate PPE and ensuring the critical safety of both staff and residents.

MORE: Eight care homes tackling coronavirus outbreaks

“In some cases, it is more difficult for care home staff to access wider healthcare services on behalf of their residents, which naturally contributes to pre-existing pressures on a caring workforce.”

He also said there are sometimes misunderstandings between services in the healthcare sector over what kind of care residential settings can provide as opposed to nursing homes.

MORE: All the latest coronavirus news in your area

Mr Yacoub added: “We have a good working relationship with over 100 care and residential homes across Suffolk, and we are happy to offer our assistance in liaising with patient families during this time.

“If friends, family members, or even staff are concerned about any particular service during this very difficult period, they can contact us via our website.

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