FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Data collected by the National Care Forum, the leading representative body for the not-for-profit adult social care sector, has revealed a doubling of COVID-19 related deaths within the UK’s care homes within just one week. With their report demonstrating a tragic 2500 deaths within care homes within seven days, these figures highlight significant flaws in the current national reporting. It is hoped that this analysis will provide insight and impetus for the government to better address the needs of the care sector.

With deep concerns that the national statistics presented by government for Coronavirus related mortality rates were not incorporating figures of deaths within residential and nursing homes, the National Care Forum led an independent benchmarking exercise of its members. With forty-seven of its care provider members contributing to this audit, representing 1169 care services that collectively support 30,217 people across the UK – 7.4% of the overall residential care sector population.

With such a large, diverse and meaningful sample-size it is believed that their analysis can be extrapolated to present, for the first time, the overall story of the rapidly escalating toll of the virus upon the nation’s residential care and nursing care population.

The report compares baseline data from providers at the earliest stages of the pandemic, from 6th March to 7th April (a full month), with results from 7th April to 13th April (one week only). It demonstrates a significant increase in Coronavirus related deaths within care homes, which when scaled up suggest that more than 2500 care home residents may have died in the homes of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 during last week alone, representing a 193% increase.

This analysis suggests that a total of 4040 people may have died of this illness within UK residential and nursing services before 13th April. Factoring in the deaths of individuals who were admitted to hospitals, the figure is a tragic 7337 deaths amongst our most vulnerable communities.

The National Care Forum hopes that this data will put into sharp focus the challenges of the adult social care sector and deliver greater support from government, at a national and local level. With the social care sector supporting many of those who are most susceptible to the impact of Coronavirus within society, there has been widespread concerns about the lack of prioritisation of social care. Amongst wholehearted distress around access to PPE, a lack of testing within care home settings, and considerable financial and operational pressures, many care providers feel under-supported and left to face the biggest health crisis of a generation alone.

Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, says:

“This data is revelatory in many ways. Quite simply, so long as groups such as residents in care services are omitted from the real-time national reporting on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the government will surely be unable to properly plan for how to protect its people or exit this crisis. The public also deserves to understand how this virus is impacting their communities, so they can continue to play their part in safeguarding the health of our nation and the most vulnerable amongst us.

Our current national debate on how to mitigate and exit this crisis is virtually entirely centred on the management of the peak within hospitals. We are overlooking how this crisis is playing out in other settings, which are there to protect those who are most vulnerable to the impact of the virus. If we truly believe that every life has value, there can be no meaningful discussions about exit strategies without considering these individuals.

The figure of more than 4000 people passing away of COVID-19 within care homes in little more than one month is devastating. Every death is a loss and a tragedy. It is even more worrying to see a virtual doubling of deaths within homes in just one week, clearly indicating that whilst all attention has been on managing the peak in hospitals, the virus has attacked our most vulnerable communities. Care providers need to be given every ounce of support from government to protect the vulnerable people they care for and the health of their workforce, but to date this has not been forthcoming.

By highlighting the scale of the tragedy, we are giving the government an opportunity to respond with equal effort. It must act immediately and build a ‘ring of steel’ around care homes. They need the right PPE equipment, medical monitoring devices, rapid and comprehensive testing, proper funding and intensive research to safeguard the people they care for.

These services have desperately strived to continue to care for their residents in their home throughout the crisis, and in doing so helped maintain capacity within the NHS. We need to ensure that proper support is provided now to sustain our essential care services now and for the future.

This virus is not going away, so this has to be a wake up call to government and society as a whole to recognise that the ‘whatever it takes’ mantra has to be applied equally to the most vulnerable in social care, as we have to the NHS.

We also need to appreciate that these devastating figures would be much higher were it not for the bravery, talent and commitment of the social care workforce. Despite the tremendous skill and accountability of their roles, funding for care providers dictates that frontline workers are almost exclusively on, or near, minimum wage salaries. This should be a matter of national shame and we hope that their heroism illustrates how this must be fixed for the future.”

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Editor’s Notes:

  • The National Care Forum brings together 115 of the UK’s leading social care charities. Collectively, these charities deliver more than £1.9 billion of social care support to more than 135,000 people in 6500 settings. The NCF membership body collectively employs more than 85,000 colleagues.
  • This data reflects contributions from 47 NCF member organisations, covering 7.4% of the adult social care residential population.
  • In the period of 6th March to 7th April, these 47 members had a total of 102 suspected or confirmed COVID-19 related deaths within their care homes. Between 7th April – 13th April, these numbers escalated to 299 – an increase of 197 in one week alone.
  • When scaled up to reflect the UK’s total care homes population of 411,000 people (source: CMA), this suggests that a total of 4040 people may have died of this illness within UK residential and nursing services before 13th April. Factoring in the deaths of individuals who were admitted to hospitals, these figures project that 7337 care home residents have passed away as a result of COVID-19.
  • For enquiries, please contact Vic Rayner ([email protected]) and Edna Petzen ([email protected]).