Care providers have called on Government to provide them with more support as the true number of coronavirus deaths and infections in care and nursing homes was revealed.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that almost 20,000 people have died from Covid-19 in care and nursing homes and one in five have been infected.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said behind every death was a tragic loss and it called on the Government to better support the care sector.
ICG Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show the true, grim reality of Covid-19 – behind every statistic is a human tragedy – a mother, father, wife, husband, brother, sister or friend who has been lost.
“Social care has taken a dreadful toll on care and nursing homes, which have been the real front line against Covid-19 for some time.
“They have been battling to keep the virus under control. From day one we have faced chronic problems in getting access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and to testing.
“Front line care providers still need more direct support from the government. This isn’t beaten yet.
“Locally, we have had good support from the local authority but it is central Government that needs to step up.”
He welcomed a planned new testing regime to help care and nursing homes protect residents and staff against coronavirus.
The Government has announced that care and nursing home staff will be tested weekly and residents every month to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in social care.
“Improvements to the testing regime can only be a good thing. Many of us in social care are very wary of a second wave of coronavirus and keen to do everything we can, urgently, to avoid that,” Mr Padgham said.
“Maintaining full staff cover is crucial during the fight against Covid-19 but it is extremely challenging, because inevitably staff are going off sick too.”
“Understandably, the Government does not want us to rely upon agency staff because of fears over moving between homes. But we urgently need to get more staff to the frontline to cope with the issues we have now and any potential second wave of the virus.”
He said the Government had to get more direct financial aid to providers to help them cope with rising costs, including staff and personal protective equipment (PPE) and the losses due to falling home admissions.
“The Government also needs to step up its recruitment campaign for care and nursing staff to get people who are experienced carers or others who aren’t to join the fight against Covid-19 in care and nursing homes.
“The battle against coronavirus isn’t over yet – in fact there may be worse to come – this is the time to step up and support care and nursing homes through it.”