County councillor calls for public inquiry into care home deaths attributed to coronavirus

all for an inquiry into deaths of people in care homes attributed to Covid-19

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan and Kathy Bailes

A Kent councillor has called for a public inquiry into deaths in care homes attributed to coronavirus.

Margate and Cliftonville county councillor Barry Lewis (Lab) wants questions answered about the decision not to “shield” older people from Covid-19 sooner and the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for care home staff.

The call comes after The Isle of Thanet News revealed the struggle facing carers and the tragic deaths of 17 people at the 62 bed residential home Grsovenor Court in Cliftonville.

The care home has staff trained in specialist needs, such as dementia care and learning disability, as well as sensory impairments and Parkinson’s. It falls in the Cliftonville West ward which has recorded the highest number of Covid-related deaths in Thanet with 13 registered up until April 17, far more than any other Thanet area.

Kent County Council delivered PPE including 3,000 surgical masks, 9,000 gloves, and 3,000 aprons, to the home on April 8.

The home has now applied for retests for all staff and residents and there is also support from a multidisciplinary team of staff the clinical commissioning group responsible for Thanet, local health professionals and KCC commissioners. A weekly meeting will be held with the home manager, area manager and business owner “until it is no longer required”. The CCG also co-ordinates daily strategy meetings to support all local care homes including Grosvenor Court.

Support offered includes clinical advice, infection control, commissioning, access to case management and signposting key guidance as and when it is produced.

A spokesman for health watchdog the Care Quality Commission said the organisation was aware of the Covid outbreak at Grosvenor Court and had offered support.

He said care home bosses and staff had “done everything within their power” to deal with the virus, seeking help from Public Health England, Kent and Medway CCG, the CQC and Kent County Council.

‘Protective ring’

Cllr Lewis told the Local Democracy Reporting service: “Questions need to be asked in order to learn from these mistakes in the future. We have a right to know these answers.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week claimed that the Government had put a “protective ring” around care homes amid the crisis as he defended Whitehall’s record during a Downing Street daily news briefing.

More than 11,000 people have died from coronavirus in care homes across the UK.

Figures by the government show  up to May 8 but registered up to May 16, Thanet has suffered 110 covid-related deaths including 40 registered by care homes.

Data released on May 21 by Public Health England shows Thanet has recorded nine covid break outs in care homes. However, a home is only counted once even if it has more than one break out. The data says 13.8% of Thanet’s 65 care home facilities have had an outbreak.

Under any inquiry, Thanet’s Cllr Lewis (pictured) said questions should be asked around the decision to send hospital patients back to care homes before being tested.

He added: “Thousands of people have died in care homes Was it possible for them to be treated in hospitals with intensive care equipment rather than remaining in the homes?”

Kent County Council (KCC) has delivered around 2.4million items of PPE to local key workers over the last two months, including gloves, aprons, hand sanitisers and masks.

County Hall has spent around £7million on the equipment from its Covid-19 emergency budget, which has included around £67million of Government grant cash.

Kent County Council leader Roger Gough

On May 1, KCC’s leader Roger Gough (Con) said: “We will not let up in our focus to procure and deliver supplies to support the safe provision of services to the most vulnerable people in the county.”

However, KCC’s health and overview scrutiny committee chairman, Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con), said there should be a probe into Kent’s handling of the coronavirus in the near future.

He recently told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There is some discussion that there could be a further spike in October and November.

“It’s critical that we learn all the lessons we can from the current experience and have a clear plan in place for any potential repetition.

“Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an example where things have not gone as well as they should.”

Calls for answers have intensified after recommendations from a government pandemic exercise involving Kent Resilience Forum were not applied to the current crisis.

KCC’s main opposition leader Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem) said: “I think we need to look very carefully at lessons learnt from previous pandemic exercises such as Exercise Cygnus.”

Government funding for care homes

On May 15 the government announced a new £600 million Infection Control Fund to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in care homes, in addition to £3.2 billion of financial support made available to local authorities to support key public services since the start of the crisis.

The fund, which is ringfenced for social care, will be given to local authorities to ensure care homes can continue to halt the spread of coronavirus by helping them cover the costs of implementing measures to reduce transmission.

Care homes will be asked to restrict permanent and agency staff to working in only one care home wherever possible. The funding could be used to meet the additional costs of restricting staff to work in one care home and pay the wages of those self-isolating.

The money will be paid in two equal instalments to local authorities and sums are allocated according to the number of care home beds in each area.

For Kent, which has 14,579 registered care beds, the cash award is £18,877,765.

The covid and PPE struggle of our care homes as one home suffers 17 deaths

Covid retests to take place at Grosvenor Court care home following deaths of 17 residents



  1. Cllr Barry Lewis is right to call for an enquiry into what has happened. Nationally care home occupancy rates are falling, up to 10% with fewer people seeking admissions. Predictions are that this is costing care home owners £707,00 per day, huge debts in the sector are now mounting. Ultimately care homes have evolved by accident. We need to have a very thorough look at how this vital service needs to be reshaped and delivered in the future. I believe, like health care, no one should make a ‘profit’ from looking after our societies vulnerable members. I’m also uncertain at how staff can be stopped from working elsewhere. It may be common sense to stop the spread of the virus, but these staff also have families to feed and bills to pay.

  2. • Some people were prescribed Warfarin, a medicine to thin the blood and stop clots forming. People had
    regular blood tests and their Warfarin was prescribed according to the test result, and the dose could
    change. The dose was recorded in a ‘yellow book’, which staff should use when administering the medicine.
    Two people had not received their Warfarin as prescribed on one occasion. Staff contacted the people’s GP
    for advice.
    • The interim manager had completed an audit of the medicines a week before our inspection. Shortfalls
    they found had been addressed, including providing guidance to staff about how to administer ‘when
    required’ medicines.
    • Some people were given their medicines without their knowledge, these were crushed and disguised

  3. Requires Improvement
    8 The Grosvenor Court Inspection report 20 March 2019
    food, known as ‘covert medicine administration’. Guidance about this had been requested from the
    community pharmacist shortly before our inspection to make sure the medicines continued to be effective.
    • People’s medicines were ordered, stored and disposed of safely.
    • Staff administering medicines had completed training and the skills had been assessed to make sure they
    were competent.
    Learning lessons when things go wrong
    • When staff made medicine errors investigations were completed. When necessary staff completed further
    training and their competency was retested.
    • Incidents and accidents had been recorded. However, the provider’s policy to audits falls to look for
    patterns and trends had not been completed for two months and an audit was planned. We observed

  4. Assessing people’s needs and choices; delivering care in line with standards, guidance and the law
    • The provider’s policy had not always been followed and staff had not met with three people to assess their
    needs before they began to use the service. Instead staff had used information from people’s social workers
    to decide if they could provide the care the people needed. Staff told us the people did not have complex
    needs and they were able to meet them. We met the people and they confirmed this.
    • The interim manager had completed the assessments to the required standard at another of the provider’s
    services, and knew what was required. The provider was not taking new placements into the service at the
    time of our inspection.

    • I assume from some of your comments you have worked for these Care homes. I also suspect you no longer work in such an environment. It would not surprise me if you are not taken to task/sued one day with some of your comments which would need concrete evidence to substantiate. You cannot throw accusations about without a consequence. If you have evidence which is credible and provable, forward to Mr Lewis to aid him in any lawful enquiry. If not I advise to to be careful using a public platform to air your views, especially if you have an axe to grind.

      • The comments Rebecca made are readily evidenced on the last CQC Inspection Report. The home ‘requires improvement’.

  5. • People can only be deprived of their liberty to receive care and treatment with appropriate legal authority.
    In care homes, and some hospitals, this is usually through MCA application procedures called the
    Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).
    We checked whether the service was working within the principles of the MCA, whether any restrictions on
    people’s liberty had been authorised and whether any conditions on such authorisations were being met.
    • The interim manager had completed a DoLS audit of shortly before our inspection. They found that 19
    applications were required and were in the process of completing these.
    • Some people had conditions on their DoLS and these were being met.
    • People’s capacity to make specific decisions had not been assessed or reviewed. However, we observed
    staff offering people choices in ways they preferred, such as showing them items.

  6. I have worked in mental health for at least 2 decades now. I have worked with local companies, this does not shock at this home at all. I joined and left within one week because I saw too many bad practices. CQC once said to me did you speak with anyone, yes, other staff but the manager was not approachable. Staff at The Willows at the time were not helpful, many were left to run around aimlessly. The majority had alzheimers and dementia.

  7. What is also maddening is that many of the resident are paying for their care from their and their families savings, and even possibly after they had to sell their homes! The Tories have been waffling on about the need to have a properly funded Care Service for years, and done nothing about it! Many grown up countries like Germany, have a National Care Service funded by tax payers, so why can’t the Tories introduce the same? Oh! I know, they promised to reduce taxation, and not introduce any more taxes, mostly for their rich supporters!

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