Coronavirus suspicions reported in a quarter of Lancashire care homes
Around one in four care homes across Lancashire have had at least one suspected case of coronavirus amongst their residents, according to new figures.
They show that 145 homes have reported a possible case, although their suspicions may not have been confirmed by a test.
The data, released by the Labour opposition group on Lancashire County Council, is based on official returns by care home providers. The figures also include reports from facilities in the standalone Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen council areas.
There has been growing concern nationally that the spread of Covid-19 in the care home sector has been underestimated.
Lancashire County Council says that it has been offering support to operators to help them deal with the challenges thrust upon them by the current pandemic – including by providing the funds for a multi-million pound purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) by the Lancashire Resilience Forum (LRF) – the umbrella organisation co-ordinating the county’s Covid-19 response.
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The LRF revealed earlier this week that it has sourced between four and six weeks’ worth of PPE, largely from China, but cautioned that there were “no guarantees” that it would arrive in the quantities ordered – although an initial consignment was described as encouraging.
County Hall says that it has also been recruiting a pool of staff, employed directly by the authority, but which will be available to individual care homes which may be facing staff shortages. Daily contact is also made with care homes to see what additional support they might need.
County Cllr Graham Gooch, cabinet member for adult services, said: "We have more than 400 care homes across Lancashire with thousands of staff who are vital key workers, providing care to so many older people across the county. We know this is a difficult time for all of them and thank them for their dedication.
"But we are doing much more than just thanking them - we are doing all we can to support them financially, with staffing, and with equipment.
"We have great care homes across the county, and have worked with them all to drive up quality and standards which means the vast majority are rated either good or outstanding. We have been there for our care sector in the past, and are still here for them now in this crisis."
Deputy leader of the Labour opposition group, County Cllr John Fillis also praised the efforts of those working in care homes across the county - and called for the public and county council to support them.
“The care sector are doing a fantastic job and it’s up to all of us to demonstrate our support for them by staying away, providing them with the personal protective equipment they need and beginning a robust testing regime that reaches out to every home.
“It’s up to us to provide a practical solution, not political posturing. This includes being open and honest with the public.
“The teams within the care homes have been leading the way by reducing access and promoting video visits; staff have changed their hours and given up their own family time and fears to protect the residents.
“It’s also important to recognise what the residents’ family and friends are going through at this time. The individual care homes are keeping in touch with them, providing them with updates on the support their loved ones are receiving.
“I cannot describe the emotional strain that they will be going through, so I will just thank them for abiding by the care home rules and working through this very difficult time in support of every resident, not just their loved one, and the fantastic staff providing the support,” County Cllr Fillis added.