UK (Sky News)

Coronavirus: Carer says ‘day after day we are losing people to this virus – each shift is getting worse’

By July 3, 2020 No Comments

For nursing home carer Anne Clark these are long, dark days.

This is the third shift in a row where a patient in her care has died with COVID-19.

And there’s nothing she can do about it.

Carer Anne Clark
Image:Anne Clark: ‘We need COVID-19 tests right now – it’s so important’

On this occasion, the man was discharged from hospital into the home and while it is not known how he caught the virus his condition worsened rapidly over the course of a few days.

The man’s family could not be by his bedside due to strict quarantine rules put in place by the care home owner, who has seen 50 confirmed cases and 13 deaths in the last two weeks.

Anne has been nursing the man since the beginning of her shift and while we were there he gets worse.

At 4pm, he passed away.

“Day after day we are losing people to this virus. Each shift is getting worse. I’m exhausted,” Anne tells me, as she removes her paper mask and rubber gloves.

We have been allowed access to the home under strict conditions.

A senior woman walking down a corridor with the assistance of a walker. view from rear
Government unveils care homes plan amid ‘crisis’

We have supplied our own personal protective equipment (PPE) and have been trained in infection control so that we do not pose a risk to ourselves or others.

Inside the home we witness over-stretched staff wearing inadequate PPE on wards usually staffed by double the number of carers. We see weak, frail patients struggling to breath.

And we see how COVID-19 positive residents are kept behind closed doors and only visited by designated nurses.

The ward corridors are sometimes quiet, still places.

Anne tells me: “It’s not always a good sign when things get quiet.”

Every hour a nurse goes in to check the patients are okay.

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The care sector, which employs around 1.6 million people, has been crying out for better PPE and testing kits so they can work in a safer environment.

Care homes have found it difficult to operate not knowing who has the disease and who has not.

The government has been struggling to get its hands on testing kits for frontline NHS workers and has come under growing pressure to roll out testing in social care.

“We need tests right now – it’s so important,” says Anne.

Nurse Laura Hibbard
Care home nurse: ‘We haven’t even got to our worst point’

And tests have now been pledged to all who need them in care homes – including staff and residents, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

But specific numbers are vague and timescales have been left open to interpretation.

And it is not clear where the government will get tests from.

A few days earlier, we filmed in the same nursing home as a man called John was being nursed.

He was confused and asked if he could go home but he was in no state to be moved.

He began to stop eating and drinking and became very weak. Two days later he died.

Image:John was described by his family as kind and gentle

I discovered that John was 76 years old and had until recently worked as a driver delivering prescriptions in his community. He was described by his family as kind and gentle.

But John, like so many others, died without his family around him.

Now Matt Hancock wants to make it possible for families, under certain circumstances, to be able to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Sky's Nick Martin spoke to Matt Hancock
Image:Sky’s Nick Martin spoke to Matt Hancock

“Amid this awful disease we’re changing the rules to give more people the right to say goodbye,” Mr Hancock said.

It may help ease the pain caused by a virus that cruelly separates loved ones.

Anne’s shift is nearing the end and she looks tired.

“I’m off for two days now. I’m going to try to take my mind off it and sit in the sun.

“But I know it’s not going to be any better when I come back. That’s the terrible thing about this virus.”


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