TRIBUTES have been paid to care home staff for their dedication and unwavering commitment during the pandemic.
It comes after news that 11 care home residents in Westbury died with Covid-19, according to figures published last month.
The figures, released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), show that between 10th April 2020 and 31st March 2021, Watersmead care home registered 11 deaths – 8 of those deaths were in the period 10th April 2020 to June 2020.
Overall, in Wiltshire, 431 care home residents died with the virus; and across England, more than 39,000 care home residents died with the virus in this period.
Watersmead – which is run by The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) and is rated ‘Good’ by the CQC – has said that the care home faced its “biggest challenge” during the first wave of Covid-19 and has paid tribute to its staff, who they say rose to the challenge.
“The first weeks and months of the pandemic were challenging as no care home had previous experience of a global crisis of this kind,” said the OSJCT’s regional director for Wiltshire, Janet Pannell, “but I am proud of the way my colleagues adapted and rose to the challenges they were faced with.
“Where residents received end of life care, I know that care home colleagues did everything possible to make the last days of our residents’ lives as comfortable and dignified as they could.”
The care home has also paid tribute to the lives that were lost and the families affected.
The OSJCT’s chief executive, Dan Hayes added, “Our services provide loving care for that part of society that we know is the most vulnerable to Covid-19. Behind each number in this data is an individual who is loved and greatly missed by family and friends. Their loss is felt tremendously by my colleagues who have cared for and supported them, sometimes for many years.
“The publication of this data allows us to once again give our sincerest condolences to those that have lost a loved one and to make the promise that those that passed away will be remembered by us for who they were in life, what they meant to their families and communities, and not solely for their cause of death.”
“My colleagues on the front line of social care delivery performed a brave and vital service to the nation when they faced the challenge of Covid-19 head on, and we should also acknowledge the many thousands of lives that were saved through their dedication.”
This is the first time a breakdown of the numbers of people who died with Covid-19 in ‘large’ (50+ beds) or ‘medium’ (11-14 beds) care homes across England has been published. The data excludes care homes classed as ‘small’, which have 10 or fewer beds.
The highest number of deaths in a single care home in Wiltshire was 25, recorded at a ‘large’ care home in Trowbridge.
In response to the data, Wiltshire Council joined with the Wiltshire Care Partnership to explain that the data “does not in any way suggest that care homes or their staff acted inappropriately or failed to follow the guidance”.
“Rather, an unknown and deadly virus has spread throughout communities, including care homes, and the most vulnerable have been the largest group impacted,” they continued.
Wiltshire Care Partnership’s CEO, Jo Howes, said, “The numbers of deaths in care homes overall have been widely reported, but publishing numbers per home fails to recognise the whole story, which includes the national decision to discharge people from hospital to care homes without testing early on, the initial lack of PPE and the difficulty of responding to new strains of the virus before the science has really had a chance to understand how it spreads.
“It also fails to recognise the loss felt by care staff at the passing of those in their care, through no fault of their own, or the hard work the care sector has contributed to fighting this virus during the pandemic.”
Director of Public Health for Wiltshire, Kate Blackburn added, “Care providers in Wiltshire have worked hard to maintain dignity and respect for residents and to cope with immense pressure, and I would like to recognise their hard work and dedication. We will continue to work closely with and support our care providers as they maintain their dedication to their residents during these challenging times.”
“It is important to note that death notifications do not in themselves indicate poor quality care,” said a spokesperson for the CQC, “particularly given the potential influence of variable factors, including rates of local community transmission, size of the care home, and the age and health and care needs of the people living there. Moreover, many notifications relate to the deaths of care home residents which occurred in other care settings.”
“In considering this data it is important to remember that every number represents a life lost,” added the CQC’s chief inspector for adult social care, Kate Terroni, “and families, friends and those who cared for them who are having to face the sadness and consequences of their death.”