Concerns over Moving Coronavirus Patients into Care Homes

Jamie Gordon
Court of Protection Associate Solicitor

Earlier this morning, Sky News reported that care homes around the country are being asked to take in hospital patients who have recently been tested for Coronavirus.

Mr Graham Greenaway, the home owner of The Warberries Care Home in Devon has described the Government’s proposal as ‘importing death into care homes’. He’s accused the Government of sacrificing the elderly during the current pandemic.

If you have a loved one who’s a resident in a care home setting and you want legal advice, call our Court of Protection Solicitors as soon as possible.

Call us on 0808 239 9764 or request a callback

Government Discharge Guidance

The discharge guidance estimates that around 5% of patients ready for discharge will need to go into a care home but there’s no requirement for that person to test negative before they’re transferred into the nursing home. The full Government guidance can be found here.

It’s also possible that care homes will be asked to take in new residents who will be moving from their own homes. Given the lack of testing available, care homes won’t know if the proposed resident has Coronavirus or not.

The Government guidance for admissions from an individual’s home says, "Residents may also be admitted to a care home from a home setting. Some of these patients may have COVID-19 whether symptomatic or asymptomatic’’.

After the publication of Government guidelines, Sky News reported that Care Home Managers across the country are concerned that the guidelines mean that they can’t safely care for new or existing residents given that they are already overstretched because of staff and equipment shortages.

There was already a shortage of beds in care home across the UK even before the Coronavirus pandemic. This added pressure means more and more saturation in care homes which will result in the spreading of the virus.

There will also be an added impact on the NHS as there is a real possibility that patients who can be discharged will have no place to move to. This will result in more time in hospital taking up a bed they don’t need.

In addition, the vast majority of residents living in care homes fall into the ‘vulnerable’ category. These are people, defined by the Government’s health officials that are:

  • Over the age of 70
  • Suffering from a pre-existing medical condition

A report published in late 2017 by Competition and Market’s Authority shows that:

  • There are 410,000 elderly people living in care homes
  • There are 11,300 care homes providing care solely for the elderly

The Office for National Statistics predicts a 36% growth in people aged 85+ between 2015 and 2025.

Because some proposed residents have previously tested positive for the virus, others haven’t been tested and because of their status as ‘vulnerable’ people, there’s are very real possibility that care homes around the UK could become a breeding ground for the spread of Coronavirus. Not only will the residents of care homes be exposed to a higher risk of getting Coronavirus, the staff working there will also be exposed to a higher risk.

Simpson Millar are extremely concerned by the Government’s guidelines and the proposal to put our most vulnerable people at such high risk. If you have a loved one who’s a resident in a care home setting and you want advice, please contact one of our Court of Protection Solicitors.

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