A Clifton care home has lost more than a third of residents during an outbreak of coronavirus after seven people died, the Cable can reveal.
The home is Carlton Mansions in Clifton Down, which is run by major care provider Barchester, who have more than 200 homes in the UK.
Not all the seven deceased residents had been tested for the virus, but all of them showed flu-like symptoms and difficulty breathing, according to a care worker who contacted the Cable after we published an investigation into care homes in the city. Other care workers spoke out about not being able to wear face masks early enough, and not enough residents and staff being tested.
This comes as at least 97 care home residents died of coronavirus between 10 April and 8 May, according to data released this week. But this could still be an incomplete picture because the regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) received criticism for not collecting this data earlier, and there were a further 69 deaths during that period which were certified as not involving coronavirus.
New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on deaths up to 1 May also suggests that for much of April, Bristol care home deaths involving Covid-19 outnumbered those in hospitals, which have been falling.
The ONS figure for care home deaths in Bristol up to 1 May was 92, but academics at the London School of Economics have calculated that the number of deaths among care home residents that can be directly and indirectly linked to the virus is more than 22,000 nationally – which is more than double the current count published by the ONS.
The worker said that only two of the residents at Carlton Mansions who died had tested positive with Covid-19, but some residents with dementia were not tested because they refused.
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“A lot of people who hadn’t tested positive or hadn’t been tested were showing symptoms,” they said. “It went through the whole home.” Barchester confirmed that some of their residents had died with Covid-19, but declined to confirm the exact figure.
Staff did not start wearing face masks until the first confirmed case at the start of April, the worker said. Then in mid-April they got face shields, plastic goggles and gowns. They added that a number of staff have been off sick, either suspected of having the virus or testing positive after testing was finally made available in the last few weeks.
Barchester said PPE was in place in the home by mid-March but did not specify whether this included face masks from the start. They also told the Cable that they currently had no confirmed cases of Covid-19, but that residents were still in self isolation in their rooms where appropriate.
The worker said staff were “shaken” and they had never seen anything like this. “It feels like you’re working on death row.”
“You go into work and it’s so worrying. You have to wear a gown, gloves, mask, face shield, plastic apron every time you’re in the building, and you change it with each client. It’s hot and you’re in that for 12 hours, all day long. You’re up and down stairs, it’s making the job very hard for the staff.
“A whole month we’ve been in lockdown, on 12 hours shifts with people dying every week, I needed a break from this.”
A spokesperson for Barchester told the Cable: “Every one of these deaths is a tragedy for all of us, and we send our heartfelt condolences to our residents, their families and our staff that have suffered.
“We can confirm that there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the home, and we have clear protocols should a resident or member of staff show symptoms. The home is in regular contact with Public Health England and the local authority.
“The safety and wellbeing of our residents and our staff is our utmost priority and we are closely following the official advice. We respect the privacy of our residents and staff in all matters and can therefore make no further comment at this stage.”
In 2018, Carlton Mansions was rated as Good by inspectors the CQC.