May 19, 2022

UK Care Home Company Says Visitors Vote on ‘Total Imbalance’ in Covid Risks | Social Protection


One of the UK’s largest nursing home operators is calling on the government to lift visitation restrictions after recording a death from Covid in the past fifteen weeks.

Four Seasons Healthcare, which operates 165 nursing homes, said nearly 4,000 residents were living under strict restrictions due to epidemics, but the Omicron variant has been shown to be so mild in a well-vaccinated population that limits see family and friends were “totally out of balance” with risk.

Of 132 deaths among chain residents over the past two weeks, only one has been attributed to Covid, but because at least two staff or residents have tested positive in 86 homes, visits to the interior are now largely banned. This is in line with government guidelines imposed before Christmas amid uncertainty over the danger of the latest variant of the coronavirus.

“We are denying people access, which is an absolute scandal,” said Jeremy Richardson, managing director of the UK’s third largest provider of care homes. “Government restrictions right now make it very difficult to give people a quality of life. “

He added: “We run nursing homes. We don’t run prisons.

Residents and their families were shocked by the new restrictions. Before Christmas, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, announcement that in England, any nursing home in an epidemic should close its doors to domestic visitors for up to 28 days after the last positive case, except for those designated as essential caregivers or if a resident is at the end of life. Travel outside of the care home should also be minimized, Javid said. This means that thousands of families have been able to see their loved ones only through the windows or in the access pods.

MHA, one of the largest nonprofit providers, said on Monday that about its care homes had outbreaks that had restricted visits. The Belfast Public Health Agency has reported that 120 nursing homes in Northern Ireland currently have outbreaks.

Reports suggest that nursing home outbreaks in England are set to rise sharply, from 250 to December 19, over the next Figures from the UK Health and Safety Agency.

But deaths from Covid in nursing homes in England, which house 350,000 people, stood at 40 in the week to Christmas Eve, up from a peak of around 1,800 in one week in January 2021. Latest NHS figures show 95% of nursing home residents in England have had two doses of the vaccine and 81% have been boosted.

Jenny Morrison, co-founder of the Rights for Residents campaign group, said: “The impact of loneliness and isolation far exceeded the impact of Covid in the latter part of the pandemic, so shall we continue? with these strict visitation policies? It is completely out of proportion to what we are faced with.

Richardson said that as of March 2021, 2,320 Four Seasons residents have died of any cause, and only 29 of them (1.25%) from Covid. During this period, the overall death rate has been below the four-year average before Covid.

Nadra Ahmed, executive chairman of the National Care Association, which represents independent operators, said more than a quarter of its members faced a staff shortage due to the requirement to self-isolate for seven days after a positive PCR test. One operator reported that half of its staff were on leave with positive tests or on sick leave.

“The remaining 50% of the staff are exhausting themselves to cover the shifts,” she said. Finding agency staff over Christmas was often impossible and hourly rates had hit £ 75, she said.

Nicola Richards, president of the Sheffield Care Association, said PCR test results took six days for staff in some local homes, “causing huge problems.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: “Our priority continues to be the safety of residents and staff in nursing homes. We do everything possible to help health care providers facilitate safe visits. ”