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Found 89 results
  1. News Article
    A dramatic collapse in standards at a care home where a dozen people died from COVID-19 has been revealed by inspectors who discovered hungry and thirsty residents living with infected wounds in filthy conditions. Infection control was inadequate, residents with dementia were left only partially dressed and one family complained of finding their loved one smeared in dried faeces at Temple Court care home in Kettering, which is operated by Amicura, a branch of Minster Care which runs more than 70 homes in the UK. Amicura said the home had been “completely overwhelmed” by COVID-19 infections which it said arrived with 15 patients discharged from hospitals in the second half of March. They were overrun,” one relative told the inspectors. “They were short-staffed and then with the influx of people, they couldn’t cope.” Residents’ wounds had become necrotic and infected, requiring hospital treatment and several people had experienced falls, some of which resulted in injuries needing hospital treatment, the inspectors found. The conditions discovered by the Care Quality Commission on 12-13 May were so poor that surviving residents were moved out immediately. The CQC report into the service, published on Friday, found multiple breaches of the health and social care act. Northamptonshire police have launched an investigation to identify whether any offences may have been committed. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 26 June 2020
  2. News Article
    Discharging patients into care homes in England in early April, when the number of coronavirus cases was rapidly increasing, was neither reckless nor wrong, the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) most senior civil servant has claimed. Faced with aggressive questioning from MPs on the powerful public accounts committee on Monday, Sir Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the DHSC, said the guidance for discharge was correct based on the information available at the time. Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said to Wormald: “You were discharging them from hospital into care homes when care homes were already in dire trouble, some of the most vulnerable people in society, the testing wasn’t available, PPE [personal protective equipment] wasn’t available, the training wasn’t available. Wasn’t this a pretty reckless policy by the government?” Wormald replied: “We don’t believe that. Now, as Prof [Stephen] Powis [national medical director of NHS England] described, at this point Covid was not considered to be widespread in the community.” A clearly frustrated Clifton-Brown interrupted him saying there were already 1,000 care homes with coronavirus cases at the beginning of April. He also questioned why detailed advice in relation to coronavirus for the social care sector had not been issued until 15 April, almost a month after the equivalent information was provided to the NHS. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 23 June 2020
  3. News Article
    A woman whose father died in a care home has launched a judicial review case in the High Court over the government’s “litany of failures” in protecting the vulnerable elderly residents who were most at risk from COVID-19. Cathy Gardner accuses England’s health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, NHS England, and Public Health England of acting unlawfully in breaching statutory duties to safeguard health and obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to life. Her father, Michael Gibson, who had Alzheimer’s disease, died aged 88 of probable COVID-19 related causes on 3 April at Cherwood House Care Centre, near Bicester, Oxfordshire. She claims that before his death the care home had been pressured into taking a hospital patient who had tested positive for the virus but had not had a raised temperature for about 72 hours. “I am appalled that Matt Hancock can give the impression that the government has sought to cast a protective ring over elderly residents of care homes, and right from the start,” Gardner said. “The truth is that there has been at best a casual approach to protecting the residents of care homes. At worst the government has adopted a policy that has caused the death of the most vulnerable in our society.” Read full story Source: BMJ, 15 June 2020
  4. News Article
    Care homes have been ordered to destroy a batch of faulty COVID-19 test kits after it was discovered that the swabs could break off while being used to gather samples from residents’ tonsils and noses. Care home managers were told on Sunday not to use the tests because they had “brittle stems at risk of snapping”. The kits were manufactured by Citotest, a company based in China, and were distributed by the government’s COVID-19 care home testing programme. It is tasked with providing tests for all staff and residents in care settings, not just people displaying symptoms. The affected batch should be destroyed or kept in a safe area clearly marked with warnings not to use them, officials said, adding that the problem emerged on Saturday and they were working as quickly as possible to resolve it. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the batch could have contained tens of thousands of tests and that a complaint had been raised with the manufacturer, with whom discussions were ongoing. “We are aware of an issue with one batch of swab sticks which are being replaced where needed but this does not affect any tests, or the results of tests, previously taken,” a DHSC spokesperson said. “Testing is unaffected and people should still arrive for their booked tests.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 15 June 2020
  5. News Article
    Thousands of people lost their lives “prematurely” because care homes in England lacked the protective equipment and financial resources to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, according to council care bosses. In a highly critical report, social care directors say decisions to rapidly discharge many vulnerable patients from NHS hospitals to care homes without first testing them for COVID-19 had “tragic consequences” for residents and staff. In many places, vulnerable people were discharged into care facilities where there was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) or where it was impossible to isolate them safely, sometimes when they could have returned home, the report says. “Ultimately, thousands have lost their lives prematurely in social care and were not sufficiently considered as part of wider health and community systems. And normality has not yet returned,” James Bullion, the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), said in a foreword to the report. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 11 June 2020
  6. News Article
    Care home residents are on course to make up more than half the deaths caused directly or indirectly by the coronavirus crisis in England, according to a new analysis. The study warns that the death toll by the end of June from OVID-19 infections and other excess deaths is “likely to approach 59,000 across the entire English population, of which about 34,000 (57%) will have been care home residents”. The estimate, produced by the major healthcare business consultancy LaingBuisson, includes people who list a care home as their primary residence, wherever they died – including those who died in hospital. It is based on data from the Office for National Statistics, as well as the analyst’s own modelling of the number of care home resident deaths likely to have occurred in the absence of the pandemic. The new study coincides with mounting concerns over the failure to protect care homes earlier in the pandemic. Senior care industry figures point to the decision to move some hospital patients back to care homes in mid-March. There have also been complaints that non-Covid-related healthcare became less accessible to homes during the height of the pandemic, leading to extra deaths. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 7 June 2020
  7. News Article
    Large numbers of staff could have been unknowingly spreading coronavirus through care homes, according to the UK's largest charitable care home provider. Data from MHA shows 42% of its staff members who recently tested positive were not displaying symptoms. Nearly 45% of residents who had a positive test were also asymptomatic. MHA operates in England, Scotland and Wales and has fully tested staff and residents in 86 of its 90 homes so far. A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Our priority is to ensure care workers and those receiving care are protected, and the latest statistics show over 60% of care homes have had no outbreak at all. "We've set out a comprehensive support package for residents and staff, including a £600m infection control fund, testing regardless of whether you have symptoms, and a named clinical lead to support every care home." In total, 7% of MHA staff and 13% of residents received a positive test result. Routine testing is not yet under way. MHA CEO Sam Monaghan told BBC Newsnight: "It is not difficult to imagine that a lot of people may not have ended up dying if we'd had earlier testing and we'd been therefore better able to manage infection control in our homes." Read full story Source: BBC News, 3 June 2020
  8. News Article
    At least 25 people have died at a care home amid claims from an industry body that a council's actions "caused" or "increased COVID-19 deaths". Melbury Court in Durham is thought to be the care home with the highest number of deaths in the UK. County Durham has had the highest number of care home deaths in England and Wales. Durham County Council said it "strongly refuted" the claim by the County Durham Care Home Association (CDCHA). Some patients went from the nearby University Hospital of North Durham to Melbury Court without being tested for coronavirus or after a positive test. A BBC investigation has discovered that in a conference call in late March, council officials were told plans to move hospital patients into care homes without testing would be disastrous. The CDCHA offered to find a specific home or homes where COVID-19 positive or untested people could be cared for rather than have them spread around the network, but this was never acted on and now the CDCHA has calculated there has been an outbreak of coronavirus in 81 of the county's 149 care homes. Maria Vincent, who runs Crosshill Care Home in Stanhope, told the council in March that care homes were not set up to accept COVID-19 patients, and described it as "neglect pure and simple". Read full story Source: BBC News, 2 June 2020
  9. News Article
    The government’s top scientific advisers discussed care homes only twice between January and May, according to newly published minutes. Records for meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, or Sage, which is the key group of experts advising ministers on how to react to the COCID-19 outbreak, reveal a lack of discussion about the risks facing care homes. Between January and May, Sage minutes mention care homes only twice, before the start of lockdown in the UK and weeks before the numbers of deaths made headlines across the country. Shadow care minister Liz Kendall said she was concerned not enough action had been taken and added: “It is clear that social care and the NHS were not treated equally, nor as two sides of the same coin.” James Bullion, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services said the publication of the minutes "appears to reinforce the impression that social care has been an afterthought – a secondary consideration after the NHS. This cannot continue." Read full story Source: The Independent, 1 June 2020
  10. News Article
    Care homes are the focus of the COVID-19 outbreak in England and Wales. At least 40% of all coronavirus deaths have occurred in the very places dedicated to keeping people safe in their later years. The under-reporting of deaths, the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing available to staff, and the total focus on the NHS at the expense of the social care sector have all contributed to an estimated 22,000 deaths in care homes – places that government had originally advised were “very unlikely” to experience infection. But how could care homes have been failed so badly, and what checks and balances should have been in place to prevent this? Care homes in England are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). One of its key responsibilities is to carry out inspections and visits to ensure providers meet fundamental standards of quality and safety; however, as of 16 March, the regulator stopped all routine inspections to “focus on supporting providers to deliver safe care during the pandemic”. Had the CQC continued its inspections, it would have been in a position to challenge cases where PPE was being diverted away from care homes to the NHS, and to aid struggling homes in their battle to secure tests for staff and residents. Instead, care homes have effectively been left to fend for themselves. On top of this, the CQC joined similar bodies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in refusing to publish detailed data on care home deaths, arguing instead for a need to “avoid confusion” and to protect “the privacy and confidentiality of those who have died and their families”. Families and the wider public have a right to know when and where COVID-19 outbreaks are happening, and this lack of transparency is deeply troubling. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 1 June 2020
  11. News Article
    Deaths resulting from COVID-19 infection account for only half of the number of excess deaths taking place in private homes, expert analysis of latest data suggests. Figures from the Office for National Statistics from the seven weeks to 15 May show that more than 40 000 COVID-19 deaths have now taken place in hospitals, care homes, and private homes in England and Wales. The figures also show 14 418 excess non-covid deaths. Although COVID-19 was mentioned on death certificates 13 500 times in care homes and private homes over the past seven weeks, some 23 500 more non-covid deaths have taken place in the community than would be expected. Discussing the data, David Spiegelhalter, chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, said that “as soon as the pandemic started we saw a huge immediate spike in non-covid deaths in [private] homes that occurred close to the time hospitals were minimising the service they were providing." “Over the seven weeks up to 15 May, as the NHS focused on covid, around 8800 fewer non-covid deaths than normal occurred in hospitals.” He added that these had not been “exported” to care homes, since fairly few care home residents normally died in hospitals. Instead, he said, it seemed that these deaths had contributed to the huge rise in extra deaths in private homes during this period. Read full story Source: BMJ, 27 May 2020
  12. News Article
    A dozen charities and voluntary organisations have now called on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to re-start routine inspections of care homes and mental health units amid concerns about care of patients during the coronavirus pandemic. The watchdog suspended its routine inspections of care providers on 16 March, but said it would inspect providers in “a very small number of cases” where it had concerns for patients such as allegations of abuse. The CQC’s chief executive said the watchdog’s decision was designed in part to limit the spread of the disease but he added that since inspections were curtailed inspectors had maintained contact with providers and helped to source protective equipment for staff. The Relatives and Residents Association, a national charity for older people in care and their relatives, has written to the CQC’s chief executive Ian Trenholm asking him to “urgently reconsider” the decision to stop inspections. Edel Harris, chief executive of Mencap has also highlighted concerns for hundreds of children with learning disabilities who she said were detained in “modern-day asylums” adding: “Some families are rightly terrified about what might be happening to their loved ones behind closed doors. With family contact cut and CQC inspections reduced during lockdown, there is huge concern about who is making sure that some of the most vulnerable people in society are being kept safe and well during this national crisis.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 26 May 2020
  13. News Article
    More than 22,000 care home residents in England and Wales may have died as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19, academics have calculated – more than double the number stated as passing away from the disease in official figures. Academics at the London School of Economics (LSE) found that data on deaths in care homes directly attributed to the virus published by the Office for National Statistics significantly underestimated the impact of the pandemic on care home residents and accounted for only about 4 out of 10 of the excess deaths in care settings recorded in recent weeks in England and Wales. The figures suggest the impact of the virus in care homes is finally reducing. They are based on reports filed directly from care home operators to the regulator, the Care Quality Commission. Care Inspectorate Wales has said Covid was confirmed or suspected in a further 504 cases in homes up to the 8 May in Wales. But academics at the care policy and evaluation centre at the LSE found that when excess deaths of other care residents and the deaths of care home residents from Covid-19 in hospitals are taken into account, the toll that can be directly and indirectly linked to the virus pandemic is likely to be more than double the current official count. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 13 May 2020
  14. News Article
    With all care home staff and residents now eligible for testing, with a priority given to those in homes looking after residents over 65 years of age, a new online portal has been launched to streamline the process of arranging coronavirus test kit deliveries. As national testing capacity continues to increase, the government is prioritising testing for care homes and other areas identified as having the greatest need. As such, across England, all symptomatic and asymptomatic care home staff and residents can be tested for coronavirus. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is working alongside local authority Directors of Public Health, Directors of Adult Social Services and local NHS providers to deliver this testing programme for care homes. Tens of thousands of care home workers and residents have already been tested, either by Public Health England or at drive through testing sites, mobile testing units and via satellite testing kits – packages of tests sent to care homes for staff to use on residents. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “The additional testing capacity we have achieved delivers many thousands of tests a day for residents and staff in care homes. This new portal allows those who book tests for staff and residents to do so even more easily, and it also offers a route for the prioritisation of care homes with the greatest need." Read full story Source: National Health Executive, 12 May 2020
  15. News Article
    Ministers faced fresh allegations on Wednesday of failing to prepare care homes for a pandemic, as it emerged that COVID-19 may have killed 22,000 residents in England and Wales – more than twice the official toll. Council social care directors in England warned the government two years ago, in a series of detailed reports, about care homes’ exposure to a pandemic, the Guardian has learned. They called for better supply plans for personal protective equipment (PPE) – warning that “demand for PPE could rapidly outstrip supply” – plus improved infection control and a system to enlist volunteers to help services expected to be stretched to breaking point. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), which represents directors of adult social services in England, told the Guardian it carried out the work to improve government planning for a flu pandemic at the request of the Department of Health and Social Care. But it said: “We are not aware of whether government departments picked up on any of the recommendations set out.” A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “As the public would expect, we regularly test our pandemic plans – allowing us to rapidly respond to this unprecedented crisis. Our planning helped prevent the NHS being overwhelmed and means we are past the peak of the virus.” Read full story Source: Guardian, 13 May 2020
  16. Content Article
    Key findings: The nursing staff provided exemplary care to the six patients on the ward; they were compassionate, professional and worked to ensure the patients were provided with the best care possible. The decision to transfer the residents was made quickly on a Friday, and staff had a short time to plan and respond putting together a COVID-ready ward. The patients required full nursing care and deteriorated relatively quickly. Consequently, nurses needed to spend long periods of time at the patients’ bedsides. There was no way for nursing staff to communicate with staff outside the patients’ rooms which increased the frequency of donning and doffing PPE. Full PPE was available to staff at all times. However, there were problems with the usability of the PPE and changes in types of PPE provided, which was stressful for staff.
  17. News Article
    Care home operators have accused the UK government of “a complete system failure” over testing for COVID-19 after officials repeatedly deflected responsibility for the task and left vulnerable residents unchecked. As ministers admitted it will be more than three weeks before all homes are offered tests, care home managers said lives have been put at risk and conditions for dementia sufferers worsened because of the government’s failure so far to test hundreds of thousands of staff and residents. The programme was announced by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, two weeks ago but only tens of thousands of people have been tested. Public Health England (PHE), the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have repeatedly passed the buck about who should carry out the tests, according to correspondence with care homes seen by the Guardian. When Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) tried to get tests for its care home residents and staff, a PHE official said it didn’t know anything about testing residents, before pointing them to the CQC. PHE then changed its mind again saying it would send the tests, but when they failed to arrive, PHE reversed again saying CQC was responsible. “It is very frustrating because we can’t effectively manage the risk without knowing [who has the virus],” said Holly Dagnall, director of homes and wellbeing at NCHA. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 12 May 2020
  18. News Article
    The number of deaths linked to coronavirus in care homes in England and Wales has fallen, figures show. The Office for National Statistics analysis showed there were 2,423 fatalities where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate in the week ending 1 May. That is down from nearly 2,800 the week before. More than 8,300 deaths in care homes have been linked to virus since the epidemic started. The number of hospital deaths have been falling since early April but the government and care sector had been struggling to contain outbreaks in care homes. Despite the drop, the virus is still have a major impact on the overall number of deaths in care homes. The total number seen in the week to 1 May is still nearly three times higher than you would normally expect. That means there a large number of deaths happening where the cause is unclear. One suggestion has been that the lack of testing in care homes has meant coronavirus has not always been listed on death certificates when it should. Read full story Source: BBC News, 12 May 2020
  19. News Article
    Ministers have asked local directors of public health to take charge of COVID-19 testing in English care homes in what will be seen as a tacit admission that centralised attempts to run the programme have fallen short. In a letter to sector leaders, seen by the Guardian, the care minister, Helen Whately, acknowledged that testing of care home residents and staff needs to be “more joined up”. She describes the new arrangements as “a significant change”. Under the new approach, public health directors employed by local councils will take lead responsibility for arranging the testing of some 400,000 care home residents and 500,000 staff, in discussion with directors of adult social services, local NHS bodies and regional directors of Public Health England (PHE). Critically, the local public health directors will decide which homes should have priority in the testing programme, which is still working up to a capacity of 30,000 tests a day for the sector. The switch is a conspicuous, if belated, vote of confidence in local government’s ability to help get a grip on the Covid crisis. There has been frustration and incomprehension that public health teams have until now been left as bit-players in the testing programme and in tracking and tracing carriers of the virus. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 8 May 2020
  20. Content Article
    During the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government recognised that a key enabler would be to increase capacity within the NHS, ensuring that enough acute beds were available to cope with the rising tide of patients. An important policy priority has been to ensure the safe discharge of patients back into their home or, where appropriate, into a placement with a community provider. While there were already pathways in place to accelerate this process, responding to the pandemic required a significant acceleration of hospital discharges. Hospital discharges are complex. To enable a safe and timely transfer of care, they require good co-ordination between hospital and community staff to arrange clinical assessments and to equip the home or community setting with the appropriate equipment and care plans. In this submission to the Inquiry, Patient Safety Learning and CECOPS focus on: Rapid hospital discharge - considering the challenges to this caused by the pandemic, the importance of interoperability in overcoming these, preventing care homes and nursing homes becoming vectors of transmission and harnessing digital technologies, such as an app, to assist hospital discharges. Community support - as the rate of hospital discharges significantly increases, the need to consider the availability of Personal Protective Equipment supplies, access to and guidance on supportive equipment and technologies and other pressures that will need to be met by community support services. In the concluding comments the submission sets out an eight-point action plan required to tackle this issue: A model of demand to inform hospital discharge and planning of community and care services New agile ways of working using digital technologies. An improved cross health and social care information system is imperative to ensure safe transfers of care Strengthened cross-sector leadership and communication with clinical teams and patients and families The provision of equipment services addressed urgently - to support hospital discharge and prevent admissions i.e. wheelchair, prosthetic, orthotic and equipment services Integration of planning and service delivery across sectors with the right leadership, the ability and capacity at a local level to streamline services and procurement to the needs of patients, families, and care providers Innovation in the development of safe transfers of care. We must adapt the traditional bureaucratic processes and regulatory framework to ensure that the needs of patients are met speedily Financial support to ensure that there is capacity to provide community-based care The safety of patients at the core of all plans and service delivery. All plans should include how the safety of patients is being prioritised. References [1] UK Parliament, Delivering Core NHS and Care Services during the Pandemic and Beyond, Last Accessed 7 May 2020. https://committees.parliament.uk/work/277/delivering-core-nhs-and-care-services-during-the-pandemic-and-beyond/ [2] UK Parliament, Call for evidence: Delivering Core NHS and Care Services during the Pandemic and Beyond, Last Accessed 29 April 2020. https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/131/delivering-core-nhs-and-care-services-during-the-pandemic-and-beyond/
  21. News Article
    Hospitals are continuing to discharge patients infected with Covid-19 into Britain’s struggling care homes, despite new figures showing deaths in the care sector still rising while those in hospitals are falling. Deputy chief scientific adviser Dame Angela McLean revealed the government was now seriously concerned about the scale of the outbreak in care homes. She said the number of deaths was now almost half of those in hospitals adding: “There is a real issue that we need to get to grips with.” In March care homes were told they had to accept thousands of patients discharged from hospitals to help hospitals free up 33,000 beds ahead of the coronavirus surge. But due to a lack of community testing it was not possible to test all patients, meaning the virus may have been able to spread without detection. Public Health England data last week showed the virus has now established itself in more than 4,500 care homes across the country. Sarah Scobie from the Nuffield Trust health think tank said: “The vulnerable social care sector is now becoming the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in this country. Despite a very small decrease in overall deaths from the previous week, the numbers in care homes are still growing." Read full story Source: The Independent, 6 May 2020