Care homes brace for new influx of coronavirus patients
Clinicians say care home bosses are facing increasing pressure to admit people with Covid despite lack of legal obligation
As Covid-19 continues to spread through the UK population, care homes have been told to prepare themselves for fresh outbreaks, more restrictions on visits - and increasing pressure to admit patients who may have the virus.
“If we see similar pressures on the hospital sector this time around then it will be commonplace under the current guidance that people who are Covid-positive will be discharged back into care homes,” Professor Adam Gordon of the British Geriatrics Society told Channel 4 News.
Although newly updated government guidance states that care homes will not be forced to admit patients who test positive for coronavirus, clinicians have said it will be hard to refuse.
“As part of the national effort, the care sector also plays a vital role in accepting patients as they’re discharged from hospital, because recuperation is better in non-acute settings,” says the guidance. “Some of these patients may have Covid-19.”
As the broadcaster notes, “ethically and operationally, it’s difficult to refuse a patient who’s arrived in an ambulance at the care home door as many could die from the back and forth”.
Leaked emails show that one council contacted care homes yesterday asking them to state by noon today “whether or not they are ready to accept infected residents”, says ITV News.
“Several carers have expressed their disbelief” at the request by Middlesbrough Council, “given the disastrous way patients with Covid-19 were discharged into homes during the first wave of the virus”, according to the broadcaster.
The Department of Health is finalising a plan to combat infection in the sector, but has already promised £546m to provide care homes with free PPE, pay full wages to self-isolating staff and ensure that carers do not have to risk the further spread of infection by working on more than one site.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs yesterday that the government would do “whatever is humanly possible” to protect care homes “so they are a place of sanctuary this winter”.
But tighter restrictions on visits could make care homes more like a prison, says the i news site, which warns that some residents “face up to a year without visits from loved ones”.