Care at home must be used to respond to coronavirus

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020

The horrors of coronavirus are immediately obvious to those of us who have lost a loved one, but the devastation across care homes is only just becoming clear. We must act now.

Oliver Stirk, Managing Director of Carefound Home Care

Official figures state that 17,337 people have now died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus. However, this only includes those who have died in hospitals and it’s estimated that the true figure may be more than double this when you include care homes and people’s own homes.

In fact, the Financial Times has today estimated that just under 11,000 more people than normal have died in care homes since the start of this pandemic versus the official figure of 1,043.

Staff across the care home sector are working flat out to deliver the best care they can to their residents, but there is no avoiding the fact that the risk of cross-infection is high in these settings given the physical proximity and frequent contacts between residents and staff. This is particularly difficult to manage where people are living with conditions such as dementia. It’s also likely to have been made worse by the ongoing shortages in protective equipment for staff.

Whether an older person is needing support with daily living or is due to be discharged from hospital, care at home presents a ready-made alternative to a care home which reduces the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus. It can also be tailored to a family’s needs in the form of hourly visiting care or full-time live-in care.

Live-in care in particular is still relatively unknown in this country but is likely to be the safest way to protect a vulnerable person since it only involves the support of a single or pair of rotating live-in carers. It’s also a comparable price to a nursing home bed.

For too long hospital discharge teams, NHS trusts and social services teams have seen care homes as the default option for older people requiring care and support. Often this is due to a lack of understanding of care at home and an absence of any formal way of seeing immediate capacity amongst local home care providers.

Care homes will always be a crucial part of our social care service in the UK, but it is now more important than ever that we use our care at home industry to protect our elderly population.