No one could argue that we now seem to be in the tail end of the pandemic with reported daily figures of the general population now at their lowest levels but is COVID still rife in residential care? According to government statistics, there were still 7,136 positive lateral flow tests recorded among staff at the end of March 2022 and 1,610 positive tests among residents. Although these figures have significantly decreased from the previous 3-4 week period, the fact that the overall number of tests carried out has also decreased, cannot be ignored.
The true number of positive cases may be much higher than the current testing regime (which came into force on 4 April 2022) reveals. It goes without saying that the continuation of positive cases among staff and residents in care homes remains a concern, not only for the residents themselves who may already be in frail health but also for their families. This is one of the reasons why relatives are considering a live-in carer for domiciliary care at home where they can be assured of a low risk of contracting the virus as well as best hygiene and PPE procedures.
In the last week of April, approximately 90% of care homes were able to receive visitors but although this figure has steadily increased from January 2022, a slight decrease was evident at the end of March. With the COVID virus and variations here to stay – it is only natural that there remains a sense of unease regarding the visitation rights and wellbeing of relatives being looked after in a care home placement.
Although vaccination is not a guarantee against contracting the virus; its aim is to decrease the severity of symptoms. Many families are naturally concerned regarding the vaccination status of the staff entrusted with the care of their loved one and whether the care home environment/hygiene policies increase the risk of virus transmission. Statistics show that 10% of residents and 50% of staff have not received their first booster dose. This naturally increases the risk of virus transmission from staff to residents and the risk of staff absences.
One of the most significant concerns when choosing residential care is the quality and continuity of care provided yet staff absences affect both due to stretched resources. Agency staff cost more to pay and will be unaware of clients’ individual likes and dislikes meaning that some residents, especially those living with dementia, will experience a decline.
Figures reveal that in the week ending 26 April 2022 over 1% of care home staff were absent due to COVID related reasons such as being personally affected by the virus or caring for a loved one and this figure has been increasing. Clearly, social care resources are stretched to the limit so it is understandable that many people are now choosing to have domiciliary care. That way the vaccination status of staff can be guaranteed and the delivery of high-quality care following the COVID social care guidelines remains consistent.