Publication of Information regarding deaths in Care Homes due to COVID19
On Wednesday 21 July, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are publishing data showing the number of notifications received from individual care homes relating to deaths of people with COVID-19 between 10 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.
We recognise that the publication of this data may cause distress for bereaved families as well as for staff and residents who live, work, and visit our care homes, and we want to place on record our sincere, and heartfelt thanks for their unwavering support during the most challenging period our industry has ever faced.
We also want to repeat our sincere condolences to every person who lost a friend, partner, family member or loved one…not just those in our care homes, but across the whole care sector and population.
We do not plan to comment on the data itself, this press release is intended to give some context to the data and sets out some of the challenges which faced our care homes between April 2020 and March 2021, the majority of which continue to this day.
In the early months of the pandemic, global understanding about the spread of the disease, who was vulnerable to it and effective testing and infection control methods were still emerging.
PPE was in short supply but was sourced due to the magnificent efforts of our staff, home managers and suppliers. Government guidance was issued over months as learning developed, but much of this guidance was introduced with no advance warning or consultation, often being shared with the press and media before those delivering care.
We worked tirelessly to ensure we always remained ahead of guidance and put the safety of our clients and staff at the heart of everything we did and continue to do.
Care home workers across the sector were providing care, often to very sick people, initially with very limited support from their GP and community nursing teams as their resources were stretched to the limit. They have been and continue to be a great support to all of our homes.
Our staff helped to provide care and comfort to some of the most deserving but equally most vulnerable people in our society, all of whom were forced into isolation from families, friends and loved ones, managing with limited knowledge about treatments that would be effective.
Many of our loyal, hardworking staff sacrificed time with their own families in order to care for our residents. They also placed themselves at risk by continuing to care for those who had COVID and succumbed to illness themselves. At the worst point of the COVID crisis we had approximately 20% of our staff unable to work due to illness and self-isolation but our staff continued to provide a first-class service, by supporting each other, and putting our clients first.
They have been and continue to be magnificent and deserve our eternal thanks, and the combined efforts of them all ensured that the majority were kept safe and beat COVID, but tragically many of the most vulnerable did not.
Any loss of life, in any circumstance, is difficult and heart-breaking but our homes worked tirelessly to ensure every client who passed away during this period did so with the respect and dignity they deserved, and where our residents were able to express a choice about their end-of-life care, and their wish was to die in a care home with familiar faces around them, rather than in hospital, this was respected by all PrimeLife care homes.
That said it was wholly unacceptable that during the early days of the pandemic our managers and senior clinicians were expected to certify the death of a client in their homes without a visit or support from a GP and there is little doubt that this issue inflated the numbers of deaths attributed to COVID and brought unnecessary distress to families.
It should also be recognized that care homes were placed under enormous pressure to help support the growing crisis placed upon the NHS, who are held, rightfully so, in such high regard and esteem, a position that care homes rarely enjoy. Care homes were placed in the impossible position of being expected to admit clients into homes with no testing around COVID, an issue that likely caused deaths that could possibly have been prevented.
This helped ease the burden on the NHS and reduced the number of deaths recorded in hospitals, but the care home sector suffered the reverse. People clapped our staff for a while, but they have stopped now, whilst our staff continue to work as hard today, with no lifting of restrictions for them. If anything, the restrictions are more challenging than ever.
Only the care home sector has been placed in a position of having compulsory vaccinations, and whilst PrimeLife wholeheartedly support the vaccination of everyone we are disappointed that the personal choice of all our staff is not being respected whilst the rest of the UK population is. Again, the care home sector is being expected to work to a different set of rules to everyone else.
It should be made clear that from the outset of the COVID pandemic PrimeLife did not accept placements into any of our care homes for clients who were either COVID positive, or who had not been tested prior to admission. Admissions were only accepted once a negative test result had been received and all clients to this day remain in isolation for a period of time following admission. This policy decision was made to protect our existing clients and our staff, and we are confident this policy saved lives.
In addition, PrimeLife did not bow to the pressure of creating “designated services” whereby care homes had designated parts of existing homes set up specifically for clients who were COVID positive. We could not put existing clients and staff at risk, and we are confident that this policy saved lives.
We hope that the forthcoming public enquiry into the Government’s management of the COVID virus acknowledges many of the above issues for future learning, and PrimeLife will be at the forefront of any consultation should we be asked to participate and contribute…care home providers, managers, staff, clients and relatives all have a voice and it deserves to be heard.
This press release is intended to give context to the numerical data shared by the Care Quality Commission today and to repeat our sincere, heartfelt thanks to every single member of the PrimeLife team who has worked tirelessly to protect and serve our clients, our visitors and loved ones, through the most trying of times.
James Wood, on behalf of the owners and Directors of PrimeLife
Wednesday 21st July 2021