• Sarah Whitebloom

Half of care homes had zero Covid deaths. Why did tens of thousands die in the other 7,000 homes?

AT LAST - The Care Quality Commission has finally published details today [21 July] of the care homes where people have died Covid-related deaths. It makes for very distressing reading. The CQC's long long list, shows more than 30,000 people died in about 7,000 care homes - homes where they were supposed to be safe and cared for. Their relatives were not even allowed to visit them, for fear of bringing in the virus. But the virus was brought in by others, with devastating consequences.

In the first wave when, CQC argues, there was little anyone could do in the face of the pandemic, some 18,000 people died. We know there were mistakes - people not tested for Covid before being sent into homes and a lack of PPE. But there is fact that, even after they had time to introduce tough Covid procedures, many thousands died in 'care homes' - or at least some of them. It does not seem unreasonable to ask:

Why were there more than 13,000 deaths in the second wave, when homes should have had all the tough new procedures in place to protect their vulnerable residents?

The truth is, though, there were many homes had multiple deaths in both waves. Even if you accept these care homes were swept away by the first wave, although they are supposed to have stringent safety procedures in place as a matter of course, there can be no excuses, no claims that they were taken unawares by later waves.

Worse, perhaps even more shocking, is the fact that 50% of homes had no Covid deaths - as OLM reported earlier this year: not in the first wave, not in the second wave. So how were they able to do it? How were they able to protect their residents when so many others could not?

Looking down the list of homes with multiple deaths, I see the home where my father died five years ago. According to the CQC, it is 'Good' on all counts. It was not Good in 2016, although it was rated as such, and it certainly is not Good now. Twenty three of its residents have died in the pandemic - the highest number by far in the town, the second highest number in the county.

Yet the CQC's glowing report suggests it is a wonderful home for vulnerable people - there is no mention of the 23 deaths. The big group which owns the home charges private residents more than £1,500 a week for 'care' and often boasts about standards. The trouble is, they don't care.

This pandemic has exposed many inequalities and inequities. It has also exposed a failing care home system and a useless care home regulator.
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