Care home group Barchester Healthcare, which has a number of care homes across the North East, has said that half of its homes are currently affected by either suspected or positive tested clients.
The group, which as homes in South Tyneside, Washington, Northumberland and County Durham, has reassured families that it is doing everything it can to ensure that residents, patients and staff are as safe as possible.
Barchester Healthcare care homes chief executive Peter Calveley made the announcement following the confirmation of a Government action plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in care homes.
During Wednesday’s Downing Street briefing, Health Secretary Matt Handcock said that care home residents discharged from hospital will be tested before going back into their home and that the Government will increase supplies of personal protective equipment.
Welcoming the plan, Mr Calveley said: “Changes from the social care action plan will take time to embed, and we look forward to seeing these measures flow through and empower the care sector to tackle the terrible virus that is COVID-19.
“It is far more widespread in care homes than has previously been acknowledged.
“We currently have 50% of our homes with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and I am aware of other care providers that are at 75%.
“Testing and the availability of PPE are absolutely vital.
“We are also pleased to see the push for recruitment into the care sector from the Government, it reflects what we’ve seen with a record number of people applying for jobs with us in Barchester across care, kitchen, housekeeping, admin, and maintenance roles.
“People want to join our brilliant caring team in the fight against COVID-19 and that really reflects the best of our society.”
Barchester care homes in the North East include Harton Grange in South Shields, Bedewell Grange in Hebburn, Washington Grange in Washington, Hawthorns Care Home in Peterlee, Chester Court and Meadow Park in Bedlington, along with Woodhorn Park and Station Court care homes in Ashington.
The Government briefing also saw Mr Hancock promise that the relatives of dying residents will be allowed the right to say goodbye as part of the action plan.
Praising staff at Barchester homes, Mr Calveley said: “Many people have rushed to criticise the government’s adult social care action plan but it is vital that we don’t miss the point; we should recognise that the changes are broadly welcomed.
“The negative response probably reflects levels of frustration across the care sector.
“Those who work in care need all the support we can give them from a governmental, societal and employer level.
“We are so proud of our staff at Barchester who are working tirelessly and relentlessly, and as one of the bigger providers, we have excellent systems in place, with robust supply chains; but we appreciate that smaller providers are struggling, and we need to pull together.”