Coronavirus: Care homes 'fighting for residents' lives'

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image captionDozens of residents and staff have been infected with the virus at care homes in Sheffield

Care homes are "fighting for residents' lives like never before" in the face of a lack of help to deal with coronavirus, a care home boss says.

Six people, who tested positive for Covid-19, have died at two nursing homes in Sheffield, with dozens more residents and staff being infected.

Care provider director Nicola Richards said she was "aghast at the lack of support" from the council.

Sheffield council said it was talking to the provider about concerns raised.

Care provider Palms Row Health Care operates three sites in Sheffield - Newfield, Westbourne and Northfield.

Its director Ms Richards said: "Care homes across the country are fighting for residents' lives like never before.

"Words cannot describe how difficult the conditions are on the front line.

"Many operate as an extension of the hospital system without adequate support."

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image captionCalls have been made for improved PPE and swab testing kits

How many cases are there in the homes?

In Newfield, two residents have died and 19 others who are infected. A total of 19 members of staff are in isolation, including five who tested positive.

Four residents have died in Westbourne, while 11 others have tested positive. Fifteen members of staff are in isolation, including nine who are infected.

In Northfield, four members of staff are in isolation, including two of those who have tested positive for the virus.

As well as improved PPE, Ms Richards said they needed more swab testing kits, access to more staff and volunteers and "financial and moral support from local authorities and politicians".

Rob Linley said he was worried sick that his mother, Newfield resident Ellen Linley, would catch the virus.

"It's a daily, hourly stress that we're waiting for that call. It's incredibly distressing for the whole family."

The council said all care home providers received regular updates from the authority in the forms of letters, emails and weekly phone calls from its contract officers.

George Lindars-Hammond, cabinet member for health and social care, said since the pandemic the council had stepped up that process "to include specific communication relating to the outbreak and to make sure all care homes have been aware of the support available" from the authority.

The Department for Health and Social Care said it had announced £2.9bn to help local authorities respond to pressures in key services, such as adult social care.

A spokesperson said it had published guidance for care homes and councils on how best to prioritise the workforce and added it was reinstating "the professional registration of 8,000 former social workers to fill vital roles in the community".

The department said as testing increased, it would be rolled out to social care and other key workers.

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