Figures from Public Health England show they rose 60% in just one week, as the UK as a whole faces a big increase COVID cases and growing concerns about staffing levels.
A survey by the National Care Forum found that nursing homes were exploiting staff absence rates of up to 50%, with an increase in tests revealing more positive cases and forcing staff to self-isolate.
Others must protect or care for children during confinement.
Northfield Nursing Home in Sheffield is among those currently in crisis.
There is too much to do and not enough hours in the day to do it.
The nursing staff are running around trying to keep abreast of all the buzzers. Each buzzer is a patient in need of care and a panel on the wall is lit with green lights, each requiring special attention.
This is a specialist nursing home that offers what the NHS calls ‘intermediate care’ – it is a hospital-type bed for patients who should no longer be hospitalized but who are not ready to go home. them.
Nowadays, intermediate care is used as a valve to relieve pressure on a NHS bursting at the seams.
“The moment one patient is discharged another goes straight through the door,” says Tracy Hobson, clinical chief nurse, who has worked for the NHS for 30 years and now heads this department.
“It’s kind of like Groundhog Day – it keeps repeating and we just have to keep going for our residents. ”
She tells me that the floor we are on is full of patients who are sent to them by hospitals. Fortunately, no one at home has COVID at the moment, she says.
This care home is trying to help the NHS not to be overwhelmed by taking on as many patients as possible. Nurses and caregivers are doing their best to contain a new wave of this crippling pandemic.
Eva Koffi is a third year medical student and part-time caregiver. The 21-year-old says the situation can change drastically from week to week.
“One week I had a shift and I left on Friday night and everything was fine. On my next shift I arrived and the whole floor was full of COVID positives. I was terrified, ”she said.
“The vaccine cannot come fast enough. Until there. We don’t know what’s going on from week to week. ”
Pressure on health and social services increases, with a higher demand for beds than ever before.
And nursing homes like Northfield have never been so busy, filled with patients sent from hospitals desperate to free up bed space.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, told Sky News: “This is a very important early warning signal that we need to pay absolute attention to.
“We must act now to ensure that social services can provide the care and support they desperately need. ”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: “The NHS and social protection systems are working closely to ensure that patients are released as quickly and safely as possible.
“All patients will be tested on discharge from hospital and must have their results before being admitted to a nursing home. ”