The boss of a company which operates four care homes in North Staffordshire is calling for Government action – after being hit by the national shortage of coronavirus testing kits and protective equipment.
Philip Morris says staff are ‘heroically battling day after day’ to keep their residents safe.
It comes as a number of employees are off sick with coronavirus or its symptoms – and agency workers are being drafted in to replace them.
But they still have no access to COVID-19 tests – and personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser are in short supply.
Safe Harbor runs The Place Up Hanley, in Bucknall; Florence House, in Porthill Bank; Haversham House, in Longton Road, Trentham; and Agnes and Arthur, in Bradeley.
Mr Morris said: “The Place up Hanley is just one of tens of thousands of care homes in the UK, where staff provide close personal care to residents. Our staff are heroically battling day after day to keep themselves and our residents safe from coronavirus.
“To make this struggle much more effective and to help protect our staff and residents, we need access to tests for our staff and residents, and we need access to PPE and hand-gel for our staff. These measures would assist in containing and limiting the spread of the virus.
“However, we don’t have access to these tests, and we aren’t receiving the PPE that we need. Our situation isn’t unique and is being experienced by care homes up and down the country.
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“In addition to these difficulties, we are being asked by hospitals to admit residents who haven’t been tested for the virus.
“We also have staff off sick who are self-isolating because they have shown symptoms or because they have been diagnosed as having coronavirus. This means we have to use agency staff, who can be sent to many different homes, week after week.
“These agency staff aren’t being tested for the virus.
“These are the realities of what care homes across the country are having to deal with. We need help.
“We cannot adequately express our massive thanks and gratitude to care home staff and other front-line staff across the country. They care for residents and patients, despite knowing the significant risks and dangers they face each day. Their efforts are remarkable, admirable and truly heroic.”
The Department for Health says any care home workers with COVID-19 symptoms must stay off work, notify their manager, and self-isolate for seven days.
A spokesman added: “Care home staff who come into contact with a COVID-19 patient while not wearing PPE can remain at work. This is because in most instances this will be a short-lived exposure, unlike exposure in a household setting that is ongoing.
“These are guiding principles and there should be an individual risk assessment based on staff circumstances, for example staff who are vulnerable should be carefully assessed when assigning duties, and where a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case is present in a care home, efforts should be made to cohort staff caring for that person.”