Exclusive:’ We’re sitting ducks,’ says the boss of Edendale Lodge as concerns rise that variant will break through the defenses of homes
Covid was affected by a nursing home in East Sussex, losing half of its residents over Christmas. This is fueling concerns that the current viral variant, more readily spread, sweeping the southeast of England is beginning to break through the defenses of homes.
Thirteen of 27 residents have died from reported or suspected covid since Dec. 13 at Edendale Lodge care home in Crowhurst, said the chief executive of the home provider, Adam Hutchison, who also operates care homes in Kent.
During the outbreak, in which residents died on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, about a third of the workers have tested positive. The new death occurred Monday of this week.
Hutchison said, “It was a terrible Christmas and terrible for the staff,” “It’s just unstoppable. We’re sitting ducks.”
Covid outbreaks in nursing homes are on the increase again across England after prevention measures have held infection rates much lower in recent months than they were in the spring.
Essex County Council banned all visits to nursing homes in its area on Tuesday, citing “the increasing number of outbreaks in nursing homes and the difficulty of controlling these outbreaks. The Kent Integrated Care Alliance, which represents nursing homes in its region, also warns about deaths and absences of caregivers, emotional and mental exhaustion among caregivers, and a threat to the viability of the viability of the caregiver.”
Many nursing homes are upset that residents are still not allowed to use vaccines.
Boris Johnson said Wednesday in Parliament that he wants to accelerate the program and that 10 percent of nursing home residents and 14 percent of nursing home workers have received the vaccine so far.
“Clearly that needs to be increased,” said the Prime Minister.
It was planned that family doctors will start taking the AstraZeneca vaccine to nursing homes beginning in the second half of this week.
Many of the nursing home residents who died were thought to be at the end of their lives, Hutchison said, but the virus took them months before they were expected to die. Others were more healthy.
“One of our residents played the piano and I would talk to him when I came in,” he said.
Via regular swab tests, the outbreak was detected. When the results came back, none of the 14 residents who tested positive had any symptoms, Hutchison said. One of the 12 staff members who tested positive was hospitalized but recovered.
The outbreak seems to have thwarted the infection prevention measures of the shelter, including a ban on visitors with the exception of windows, personal protective equipment for caregivers, and no use of temporary staff who could shuttle and transmit the virus between various shelters.
“It’s hard for me to say how it got in,” Hutchison said. “Based on the protocols we followed, everything was there.”
He said there were hospital visits for certain residents and that workers necessarily had lives outside of work. His company, Belmont Healthcare, manages four nursing homes and asks employees to suggest whether they have second jobs.
Official figures indicate the number of deaths in nursing homes across England increased gradually in December, and at a slightly faster pace than Covid’s total death toll.
According to the Office for National Statistics, nursing homes in England reported 440 people dying from Covid in a week at the beginning of December, increasing to 588 by the week before Christmas. While the figures are much higher than the last week of September, when only 42 people died from Covid, they remain a fraction of the up to 2,700 nursing home residents who died weekly from Covid at the Covid weekly
HC-One, the UK’s largest private nursing home provider, said Tuesday that a third of its 330 nursing homes were facing outbreaks, but often with small numbers of infected individuals and positive testing by more staff than patients.
In the southeast, there are fewer homes than in the north, and in the past month, outbreak rates have fallen.
Visits to nursing homes have been widely prohibited in the U.K. unless occupants are close to the end of life or walls or cubicles have been built for infection prevention. In addition, the government has offered free PPE to care for homes