With accusations that older people are being ‘airbrushed’ out of the Covid-19 death figures, current news is focusing on the numbers of people dying in nursing homes or at home with Covid-19 related complications.
So far, 2000 extra deaths have been recorded outside hospitals as care homes struggle with staff illnesses, a severe shortage of PPE (personal protection equipment) and vulnerable elderly residents.
I have been in regular touch with my father’s nursing home in Birmingham, being unable to visit since mid-March. Fortunately, things are ticking along there so far, though they did lose a staff member (not to Covid-19) recently, which understandably shook them all. Feeling rather helpless, I have made donations and sent a card and chocolates, just to help staff morale and to show appreciation. I wish I could send them all PPE!
We all feel for frontline NHS staff who are dealing with serious illness and death on a daily basis, and rightly so. Care home staff have been slightly in the shadow of that but are also at risk.
The situation is different in care homes because many of the residents are well known to staff, and have been there for some years, so an affection develops; when an elderly person dies in a care home, the staff feel the loss because they know them pretty well. As my father’s nursing home says, they see themselves as family.
Staff in care homes do a fabulous job in difficult circumstances, and usually not for great amounts of pay. Certainly, the ones I know are caring, kind, compassionate people. Having done it many years ago temporarily, I can say hand on heart that the job is not an easy one, and those caring for our most vulnerable deserve our admiration and thanks. We need to care what happens to them, too.