Welfare chiefs blast Prime Minister for ‘misguided’ criticism of care homes’ response to pandemic

Boris Johnson claimed many homes ‘didn’t really follow the procedures’


Communal care home bosses have criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson as misguided and insensitive for claiming that “too many care homes didn't really follow the procedures” during the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Johnson went on to say that £600 million of funding for “Covid-compliance” in care homes had been made available, but added that the care sector needed to be “properly organised and supported”.

Paula Peake, chief executive of Jewish Choice, branded the remark as “clumsy” and “misguided”.

“Comments like this go out far and wide and we are just starting to rebuild as a sector the confidence again in the public,” she told the JC.

Despite relatives of residents being supportive “all the way”, there had been a lot of reputational “damage” done to care homes.

Though there were seven deaths due to coronavirus in Jewish Choice’s Wembley home, Ms Peake said the virus had been “fought off very quickly” and that Public Health England had given the home the “green light” when it came to hygiene and PPE.

Chief executive of Nightingale Hammerson, Helen Simmons, said it was “remarkable for him not to be more sensitive. It’s important to make sure that statements that are made from politicians are evidence-based.” 

She had already received an email from a resident’s relative saying they were “horrified” by the PM’s comment.

Ten per cent of residents at Nightingale House in Clapham are aged 100 or over. Two residents at the home had died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Ms Simmons said that when care homes were “really up against it”, the “support wasn’t there” from the government.

“No PPE was made available until way too late, and then very little,” she claimed. Nightingale House had received only 500 masks from the government and had to source 30,000 on their own.

Although welcoming the Covid compliance funding, Ms Simmons pointed out that care homes “can’t backdate it” and could “only use it now”, when the peak of the pandemic had passed.

Almost 30,000 more care home residents in England and Wales have died during the outbreak than in the same period in 2019. Two thirds of those deaths have been attributed to coronavirus.

Gaby Wills, Jewish Care’s Director of Care Services, responded that the organisation had “gone above and beyond to ensure that we not only follow outlined procedures, but taken additional precautions, which, had we not done, the impact of the virus could have been much worse.”

The care provider – which had 31 deaths due to coronavirus across their ten care homes – went into lockdown over a week before the nation did.

They have now been Covid-free for more than a month, requiring any new residents to test negative and to self-isolate for the first 14 days of their stay. To date, they have procured over 1.4 million items of PPE.

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