By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
A Thanet care home manager says the sector has been treated with a “lack of respect” during the coronavirus crisis.
Maria Kallis, the manager of Eaton Lodge Nursing Home in Westgate, said the industry was “virtually being ignored” by the Government until the Covid-19 death toll rose in April.
Her 28 staff have been reliant on donated personal protective equipment (PPE) stock from charitable members of the community, including masks, visors and gloves. A total of 51 testing kits were ordered from Whitehall three weeks ago, but none have arrived.
Mrs Kallis, who has worked in the sector for 49 years, said: “Care homes have been treated with a lack of respect.”
The 68-year-old, whose husband also works at Eaton Lodge, added: “We need to be treated much better in the future.
“We are doing a special job here and I want people to be aware that our line of work is just as important as that in hospital.
“We are looking after people’s families and provide much personal care. I feel we have been let down by the Government.”
More than 11,000 people in the UK have died from coronavirus in care homes, including 17 people at Thanet’s Grovesnor Court, a home for residents with special needs based in Cliftonville.
However, there have been no coronavirus cases recorded at Eaton Lodge. The home has taken “every precaution” to minimise transmission of Covid-19, Mrs Kallis added.
Daily temperature check ups are taken at the Westgate Bay Avenue site and no visitors have been permitted as the home engaged in “total lockdown”.
In addition, Mrs Kallis has not allowed residents being discharged from hospitals to return to the care home until they have been tested. Eaton Lodge faced the threat of a “safeguarding notice” from an A&E nurse at Margate’s QEQM as a result, says Mrs Kallis.
Provision of PPE
KCC has been providing PPE for care homes, homecare providers, GPs and pharmacies with some 1,300 deliveries of 2.4 million items.
Some 276 care homes and 113 homecare providers have received PPE from the county council.
It comes at a cost to the authority, which has not charged for the PPE, with some £337,000 already spent and projections of circa £320,000 per week needed at current demand levels.
Government fund 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.