- Title: Deaths soar at Britain's care homes for elderly
- Date: 9th April 2020
- Summary: SURREY, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (APRIL 9, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF DAUGHTER OF DECEASED CARE HOME RESIDENT JAMSHAD ALI, LUTHFA HOOD, STANDING WITH PHOTO OF FATHER ON MOBILE PHONE
- Keywords: COVID-19 Coronavirus PPE care homes elderly testing
- Reuters ID: LVA001C8RT7WN
- Location: LONDON, SURREY, SUSSEX, CUMBRIA, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM/ UNKNOWN LOCATION/ VARIOUS LOCATIONS, SPAIN
- City: LONDON, SURREY, SUSSEX, CUMBRIA, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM/ UNKNOWN LOCATION/ VARIOUS LOCATIONS, SPAIN
- Country: United Kingdom
- Duration: 00:00:11
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Thousands of care homes across Britain were locked down last month to stop COVID-19 from spreading among their frail and elderly residents.
For Jamshad Ali, 87, it came anyway. Ali and six other residents at Hawthorn Green Care Home in east London have died of the disease.
"He passed away on the 24th, 6am with no one near him, we weren't able to send goodbye to him," his daughter, Luthfa Hood told Reuters, "We could have been beside him, we could have stroked his hair and held his hand," she added, fighting back tears.
Many other residents at Ali's care home alone face the prospect of dying alone, with 21 others thought to be infected, said a spokesman for the home. A further six have already died.
With growing reports of COVID-19 deaths and cases multiplying at other homes, experts fear that a disease which has already ripped through the care sector in the United States and the rest of Europe is now doing the same in Britain.
About 433,000 people live in Britain's 11,000 care homes, which have more than 450,000 beds - three times more than the National Health Service.
Many care providers rely upon on agency staff who work at many different homes and could transfer the virus.
Kate Holt did not wait for her mother to suffer a similar fate to Ali. When Kendal Care Home in northwest England informed her that someone in the home had tested positive for COVID-19, she took her home and now looks after her at a family house nearby.
Her mother has Alzheimer's and limited mobility, and being isolated at the home had impacted on her health, Holt said.
Even those who don't have COVID-19 are not getting the care they need as many staff members are forced to isolate at home.
Advocacy groups and care workers, including those at the home where Holt's mother was being looked after are calling for testing to get self-isolating staff back to workplaces already understaffed when the pandemic struck.
Others like David Steedman, the manager of a care home in Sussex south of London, are calling for more protective equipment.
"If I was to make one request is that we get enhanced PPE now, not in several weeks time, we're fighting this off as we stand here. We need an enhanced PPE, head to foot, to protect our residents," he said.
Steedman said he looked upon the huge number of casualties in care homes in Europe and feared a similar story could play out in the UK. France has already announced more than 2,400 deaths in its care homes.
Neither Holt nor Hood blame the individual workers tirelessly looking after residents like their parents. Instead both are angry that front line care home staff are such a low priority.
"This is one of the things that I find quite challenging about the situation, is that people in care homes are the most vulnerable people in our society, they're weak, they're dependent on other people, their immunities are low and yet they're just classed in this current crisis as pretty unimportant in the big scheme of things," said Holt.
(Production: Natalie Thomas)
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