Home Health One care home resident died every minute during peak of the Covid-19 crisis

One care home resident died every minute during peak of the Covid-19 crisis

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A care home resident died every minute in England and Wales at the peak of the coronavirus crisis in mid-April, shocking figures revealed today.

Office for National Statistics data showed 1,300 care home residents passed away on April 12, the darkest day in the pandemic for the sector. 

That’s almost one death every minute and more than triple the amount of fatalities on the same date last year, when 407 residents passed away.

A total of 495 of deaths on April 12 were confirmed as Covid-19 following a positive test but the virus was likely to blame for hundreds more.

Very few care home residents were swabbed for the infection at the time because tests were reserved for the sickest hospital patients and NHS workers. 

It means thousands of cases went undiagnosed as the virus raced through the social care sector. 

The ONS figures also revealed that nearly 20,000 deaths of care home residents in England and Wales involved Covid-19.

A total of 19,394 deaths that occurred between March 2 and June 12 had Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate, whether as an underlying cause or not.  

This makes the overall care home resident death figure a third higher than the 14,658 deaths in care homes reported by the ONS on Tuesday.

Office for National Statistics figures released today revealed 1,300 care home residents passed away on April 12, the darkest day in the pandemic for the sector

Office for National Statistics figures released today revealed 1,300 care home residents passed away on April 12, the darkest day in the pandemic for the sector

Office for National Statistics figures released today revealed 1,300 care home residents passed away on April 12, the darkest day in the pandemic for the sector

A separate ONS report today found a correlation between the number of bank staff employed by care homes and the number of residents who caught the virus. Care home residents in every region outside of London had a lower chance of infection than those in homes in the capital, except in the North West

A separate ONS report today found a correlation between the number of bank staff employed by care homes and the number of residents who caught the virus. Care home residents in every region outside of London had a lower chance of infection than those in homes in the capital, except in the North West

A separate ONS report today found a correlation between the number of bank staff employed by care homes and the number of residents who caught the virus. Care home residents in every region outside of London had a lower chance of infection than those in homes in the capital, except in the North West

The latest data includes all care home residents who died with coronavirus either at their care home or in hospital.

Three in four residents died in their care home while a quarter died in hospital, the figures show. 

Of the near-20,000 deaths, 16,305 (84 per cent) were classified as ‘confirmed’ Covid-19 and 3,089 (16 per cent) were classified as ‘suspected’ Covid-19.  

A separate ONS report today showed that once an outbreak occurred in a home, at least a fifth of all residents caught the virus and one in 14 staff became infected.

Care home staff and residents will be regularly tested for coronavirus from next week but agency staff ‘are NOT included’ 

Staff and residents in care homes for people over 65 or with dementia will be regularly tested for coronavirus from next week, the Government announced today.

The Department of Health and Social Care said staff will be tested weekly, while residents will have a test every 28 days as part of a new social care testing strategy.

This is in addition to intensive testing in any care home facing an outbreak or at increased risk of a flare-up, the DHSC added.

MHA Care Homes chief executive Sam Monaghan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he welcomed the new guidance as ‘the step change we needed’.

However Mr Monaghan also warned that agency staff are ‘not included in this’ as far as he is aware – and that many care homes rely on them.

Agency staff make up about 10 per cent of the social care workforce, and care homes are three times more likely to rely on them than other industries.

The repeat testing programme will be rolled out to all care homes for the over 65s and those with dementia which have registered to receive retesting over the next four weeks before expanding to the entire care home sector from August.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Our response to this global pandemic has always been led by the latest scientific advice from world-class experts, and we will now offer repeat testing to staff and residents in care homes, starting with homes for elderly residents before expanding to the entire care home sector.

‘This will not only keep residents and care workers safe, but it will give certainty and peace of mind to the families who may be worried about their loved ones, and give staff the confidence to do what they do best.’

The Government has faced criticism for failing to protect care homes from the virus. 

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The results came as part of the Vivaldi study, which surveyed 9,081 care homes in England between May 26 and June 20. 

Of the 9,081 care homes included in the study, more than half (56 per cent) reported at least one confirmed case of coronavirus among staff or residents. 

More than one in 10 (11 per cent) of all residents tested positive, while 4 per cent of staff were diagnosed with the illness. 

The report found a direct correlation between the number of bank staff employed by the care home and the number of residents who caught the virus.

These homes were 60 per cent more likely to have outbreaks than care homes that used no agency staff. 

The analysis found care home residents in every region outside of London had a lower chance of infection than those in homes in the capital.

The only exception to this was for care homes in the West Midlands, where the odds of infection for residents were increased by 9 per cent compared with London. 

Becky Tinsley, principal statistician of COVID-19 Surveillance Studies at ONS, said: ‘These are the first results from the Vivaldi study, a large-scale survey which looked specifically at infections in care homes which provide care for people with dementia and older people across England. 

‘From this we’ve estimated that over half of these care homes have had at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst their staff and residents.

‘Future work will include more detailed analysis and will incorporate COVID-19 test results from the whole care home testing programme.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Every death is a tragedy, and our deepest sympathies go out to everyone who have lost loved ones.

‘We have been doing everything we can to ensure care home residents and staff are protected during this unprecedented global pandemic and the Vivaldi 1 study has proved invaluable as we further build on our understanding of this virus.

‘We announced today that we will be rolling out repeat testing for care home staff and residents across the country from Monday, to help further reduce the spread of infection in care homes.’

It comes after the Government announced today that care home staff and residents over 65 – or with dementia – will be regularly tested for coronavirus from next week. 

The Department of Health and Social Care said staff will be tested weekly, while residents will have a test every 28 days as part of a new social care testing strategy.

This is in addition to intensive testing in any care home facing an outbreak or at increased risk of a flare-up, the DHSC added.

MHA Care Homes chief executive Sam Monaghan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he welcomed the new guidance as ‘the step change we needed’.

However Mr Monaghan also warned that agency staff are ‘not included in this’ as far as he is aware – and that many care homes rely on them.

Agency staff make up about 10 per cent of the social care workforce, and care homes are three times more likely to rely on them than other industries.

The repeat testing programme will be rolled out to all care homes for the over 65s and those with dementia which have registered to receive retesting over the next four weeks before expanding to the entire care home sector from August.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Our response to this global pandemic has always been led by the latest scientific advice from world-class experts, and we will now offer repeat testing to staff and residents in care homes, starting with homes for elderly residents before expanding to the entire care home sector.

‘This will not only keep residents and care workers safe, but it will give certainty and peace of mind to the families who may be worried about their loved ones, and give staff the confidence to do what they do best.’

The Government has faced criticism for failing to protect care homes from the virus.

There have been 14,658 deaths linked to Covid-19 in care homes across England and Wales registered up to June 19, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

A National Audit Office report last month claimed that around 25,000 hospital patients were discharged into care homes in England at the height of the pandemic without all being tested for Covid-19.

The new testing strategy comes following the latest advice from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and new evidence indicating a higher prevalence in care homes, the DHSC said.

The Vivaldi 1 study, which surveyed almost 9,000 care home managers and analysed data from whole care home testing, identified the higher levels of the virus among care staff – particularly among temporary staff working in multiple care settings, it added.

The study suggested that care home staff may be at increased risk of contracting the virus which they could then pass on to others if they have no symptoms, the DHSC said.

The new repeat testing programme was welcomed by care sector leaders who said it was ‘absolutely essential’ to support care homes managing the spread of infection.

Care England chief executive Professor Martin Green said: ‘The testing programme is one of the cornerstones of Covid-19 prevention, and we are pleased that the Department of Health and Social Care has recognise this, and responded with a comprehensive approach to repeat testing.’

Vic Rayner, executive director of National Care forum, added: ‘Access to repeat and regular testing is absolutely central to support care homes in managing the spread of infection within care homes.

‘Testing has proved to be a vital tool in the box for providers and the continued expansion of the testing regime is essential.’

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