Sinister figures from the Care Quality Commission today revealed 4,343 deaths from April 10 to 24 in England alone – more than 300 a day.
Experts now estimate that more and more people are dying of the virus outside of hospitals, which questions government claims that the pandemic has peaked.
And it is feared that more than 200,000 people are living in nursing homes with confirmed or suspected cases.
Mike Padgham of the Independent Care Group said: “Social care providers are now at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19.
“The government needs to provide better support in terms of PPE, testing and funding so that we can protect more people. Our loved ones were taken from us early. They deserve better. “
Padgham said “due to the lag” in the numbers, the actual toll is likely to be higher and may increase further.
And the heads of nursing homes rejected the Prime Minister’s claim that the virus had been “thrown to the ground” as premature.
One of the largest operators, HC-One, said it suspected cases in two-thirds of its homes, while Care UK had three-quarters of them. A house near Wrexham has lost nine out of 15 residents to a suspected coronavirus in 10 days.
Boss Ricki Bibi said she believed that a new resident who they hadn’t been able to test, but was considered “low risk,” could have transported the virus to Manor Park Residential Home, to Holt.
In a home run by their RB Care Group in South Wales, 13 of 34 residents died in “no time … some with confirmed coronavirus, others with symptoms.” She said, “It was heartbreaking.
“The staff are very close to the residents.”
Jenny Smith of the Westcliff Lodge Care Home in Essex, where nearly a third of residents died in the pandemic, said, “We are still trying to deal with the loss. We also have a lot of people with suspected Covid, so we have been under tremendous pressure. ”
But it is believed that the real figure is even higher. Figures from the National Statistics Office show that 2,000 deaths in Covid nursing homes during the week ending April 17 in England and Wales – double the previous week.
But in the same week, there were a total of 7,316 deaths in nursing homes, compared to a long-term average of 2,154, 5,000 more deaths in a week than expected.
A third of Covid’s deaths in Scotland and Northern Ireland are thought to be due to nursing homes. And Care England chief professor Martin Green said this week that he expects the industry’s true record to exceed 10,000.
No10 insists that it “strives to provide nursing homes with the best support possible.”
About 400,000 of our most vulnerable live on the sites, while another 800,000 receive home care.
Ian Hudspeth, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Welfare Council, said, “Social protection is now the first line. We also do not know the peak of pressure on the welfare system, due to the delay between hospital admissions and discharge. “
Before the pandemic, adult social services were already in crisis after a 38% drop in public funding for local authorities, according to the TUC.
There were 120,000 vacancies and many more workers were sick or isolated since the lockout.
Nicola Richards, director of Palms Row health care in Sheffield, has lost 18 residents and 60 have Covid. She has 36 employees sick with the virus, 31 self-insulating workers and others on 12-hour shifts.
And she fears that persistent funding problems in the “Cinderella sector” will hinder a response to a second spike.
She said, “The authorities are not learning the lessons of the first wave. The sector was sorely underfunded before Covid-19. This put additional pressure on an area of Cinderella. “
Jean, 96: “We want to sit here”
Widow John told her children that she feels like a “sitting duck” in her nursing home.
The retired librarian, who volunteered with the Territorial Auxiliary Service during the war, was admitted to the Birchwood Residential Care Home in Ilford, east London, after breaking her hip in a fall.
The house has no known cases of Covid-19, but it is understood that a convalescent patient was admitted on April 8 and then brought back to hospital the next day. A week later, another untested patient arrived, it was said.
Jean’s daughter, Helen Buniak, 62, said, “Mom told me it was like she and all the residents were” sitting ducks. ” The government has told seniors to protect themselves, but people trapped in homes cannot do it.
“As a family, we really panic. We will come back to this epidemic and ask why we have not done more to protect the elderly. “
Birchwood operator Sanctuary Care said it “closely follows” government directives.
Redbridge council said in a statement, “The safety of our residents is our number one priority.
“All parties involved followed the guidelines and policies in effect at the time. We are now working according to the new guidelines announced on April 14, which require proper testing of patients before admission to nursing homes. ”
Daughter fears MND mother will never return to “sanctuary”
Former social worker Julie Ding implores that her mother Roberta be allowed to enter her “sanctuary”.
Roberta, 83, has motor neuron and was transferred from hospital to a nursing home on April 2. She is unable to walk or speak and can only breathe through a tracheostomy.
Julie, 56, was only able to maintain regular contact with her through video calls.
Doctors agreed that she would be allowed to leave after a care plan was put in place.
But Julie fears that it is too late. She said, “My biggest fear is that she will die before I get her out of there. A man died in the nursing home and was subsequently tested positive for coronavirus and we were told that five staff members were positive. When she was in the hospital, there was a coronavirus in the next room and it was a horrible death. “
Julie, of Allerton Bywater, West Yorks, gave up her job to care for Roberta when she was diagnosed in 2018.
She is horrified that her mother is unable to return home.
“My lovely perfect mom has a life worth living at home,” she says.
“A beautiful old presbytery with a beautiful garden and a beautiful life that no longer waits. “
The Leeds NHS Clinical Commissioning Group declined to comment.
The family dilemma facing grandparents in residence with the highest mortality rate
Great-grandmother Frances is in one of the nursing homes with the highest death rates during the crisis, with 15 residents who lost their lives.
Her daughter Carole, 55, pictured with her mom, discussed the family’s dilemma in deciding where to look after the mom of four.
Frances, who has Alzheimer’s disease, has six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
She is in Stanley Park, Co Durham. Official Carole said, “We decided we didn’t want her to go to the hospital if she got sick. It would have upset her.
“I have been in solitary confinement for 12 weeks because I have asthma, and the crisis is worrying you all the time, with all these people dying. I have met the deceased in the retirement home and I know the families. My heart goes out to everyone.
“But for my mom, who doesn’t know what day it is because of her condition, the house is the best place.
“Many have died there, but caregivers treat its residents like their own families.”
Frances’ brother-in-law, Ken Thynne, 70, said, “The staff at the home are fabulous, putting their lives on the line to look after the residents.”
The operator of the house Care UK placed restrictions on visitors on March 18, ahead of many other suppliers.
Although all of its deceased residents had symptoms of Covid-19, only one tested positive at the hospital.