In an overwhelming letter addressed to the regulator of nursing homes, the Relatives & Residents Association (RRA) accused the CQC of multiple failures in the protection of persons in care, their relatives and staff of nursing homes.
Judy Downey, president of the RRA, which represents people in care and their families, said the CQC must stand up for social care, which suffered the brunt of the crisis. Almost half of all coronavirus deaths in the UK are believed to have been in nursing home residents.
“It is a legal requirement for providers to immediately report deaths in care homes to the CQC,” Downey wrote on Friday. “This information, if made available quickly, would have helped to clarify the national situation much earlier. However, the fact that the CQC did not urgently produce these figures for public use did not allow the government to realize the real gravity of the situation in nursing homes. “
During the initial phase of the crisis, ministers cited figures from the NSO which were based on official death certificates where a doctor notes the cause of death. But it takes about 11 days to process.
This meant that the first official recognition of the real scale of the care crisis had taken place on April 21 – four weeks after the lockout started – when the NSO announced that the number of deaths in nursing homes had quadrupled , going from 217 to 1043.
The CQC said it shared death notification data with the Ministry of Health “on a daily basis”, but changed its data collection methods on April 10 to facilitate the recording of Covid’s deaths. 19. Until then, providers had to describe each death by writing in a free text box, but the resulting data “did not match what the CQC heard anecdotally from providers.”
After the change, the CQC asked suppliers to check the boxes on the online form and that the data is used by the ONS to create weekly reports.
The latest ONS report shows that Covid-19 was linked to the deaths of 11,094 people living in English retirement homes between April 10 and May 15, although researchers at the London School of Economics believe it there could be more than 22,000 “excessive deaths” during the crisis so far. It appears that some residents of care have declined after losing contact with loved ones due to lock-out restrictions.
In her letter to CQC President and CEO Ian Trenholm, the RRA president also referred to complacency with nursing homes at the start of the epidemic.
“It was clear from the outset that care services would be in jeopardy and yet when Public Health England stated that it was very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or in the community would be infected”, the CQC did not speak immediately to refute this ill-judged opinion, ”she wrote.
The commission finally released detailed advice for caregivers on May 1, but that did not provide advice on how households should speak to worried families, Downey added, and “many remain concerned About the impact of the foreclosure and the possibility that vulnerable parents may be at risk of abuse due to a “lack of supervision and control.”
“In addition, the regulator has not openly represented the voice and industry needs for PPE, testing and tracing, and other essential resources,” said Downey.
She called on the CQC to represent the rights of people living in nursing homes and to use its “leadership voice” to advocate for the needs of providers, as well as to identify care settings with poor backgrounds.
A CQC spokesperson said he had worked with local authorities to source PPE for nursing homes and helped homes organize online food deliveries when they had difficulty doing so.
In a statement, Trenholm said, “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, our regulatory role and our primary goal of keeping people safe has been at the heart of all the decisions we have made. This role has not changed – ensuring that health and social services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high quality care. “
He said they had decided to stop routine inspections to limit the spread of the infection. “But we continue to inspect in response to the concerns of whistleblowers and where we see evidence of risk of harm, willful abuse, systematic neglect or a significant breach of management. We will use our powers or work with affected system partners to take action against those responsible when we find unsafe or poor care.
“Those working in social services have never had a more crucial – or more difficult – role to play. We will continue to support the adult welfare sector and its staff because they are doing everything they can to keep people safe, but it is clear that more support is needed from all parts of the system, because these personnel are making extraordinary efforts to protect those in their charge.