How are Suffolk care homes preparing for ‘second wave’ of coronavirus?

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chairman of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers. Picture: SA

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chairman of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Care homes “feel a little bit more confident than before” in treating Covid-19 patients as cases surge - but hope coronavirus and flu combined will not overwhelm staff, a Suffolk healthcare official has said.

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, chairman of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, spoke of the dangers the sector is facing after a surge of Covid-19 cases in the county.

Suffolk’s coronavirus infection rate currently stands at 44.26 cases per 100,000 people, which is low enough to ensure the county is not placed under harsher restrictions by the government.

The county hit a grim milestone in August, as it recorded its 195th coronavirus death in care homes - putting it above other neighbouring counties.

MORE: Care homes group invests £1m in garden pods to help residents see relatives during pandemic

Ms Fairburn-Dorai, who is also director of Primary Homecare, said her company stocked up on personal protective equipment (PPE) ahead of the surge after encountering difficulties sourcing supplies earlier in the year.

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She also expressed concerns of staffing issues - a common issue for care homes - and warned of the added pressures of a harsh flu season.

At the start of the pandemic, Ms Fairburn-Dorai felt the government left care homes “in the lurch” and that they were forced to fend for themselves until around May.

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However, she also believes care home staff are now feeling more confident in their ability to treat patients with the virus and are taking correct precautionary measures to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Ms Fairburn-Dorai said: “Staffing is always going to be a problem - it’s challenging and a lot of stress.

“People come to this job because they love looking after others. But my company is recruiting every week.

“You can’t tie your agency workers to one thing - so there never is a guarantee.

“Most homes have stocked up on PPE as much as they can, but they still have problems with supplies. You’re always having to catch up.

“Hopefully, there will be less spread of flu. I hope that the effects of Covid and flu together will not be huge and overwhelm us.

“This is creeping up but we need to keep on with what we are doing.

“Staff feel more ready for it now than we did at the beginning. We know a lot more about the disease and how to treat it.

“We feel a little bit more confident than before.” MORE: Four Suffolk care homes report new Covid cases – how well prepared are they for a second wave?

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