Matt Hancock ‘was warned of Covid care home risk in March 2020’

Exclusive: leading UK operators say they repeatedly raised concerns about not testing people discharged from hospital

Some of the UK’s biggest care home operators have told the Guardian they repeatedly warned Matt Hancock’s department about the risk of not testing people discharged from hospitals into care homes in March 2020.

Their claims are likely to increase pressure on the health secretary when he appears before MPs on Thursday to defend his handling of the Covid pandemic to a parliamentary inquiry.

Care England, which represents the largest private chains where thousands of people died in the first months of the virus, told the Guardian it raised “the lack of testing in hospitals and in the care sector” several times in correspondence with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as well as NHS England in late March 2020.

10 Jun 2021

Staff shortages 'a key factor' of burnout amongst care workers and NHS staff

Chronic excessive workload has been identified as a key factor of burnout amongst care workers and NHS staff, with staff shortages identified as “the most important factor in determining chronic excessive workload”, reveals a report by a cross party group of MPs, published today.

The report by the Health and Social Care Committee called ‘Workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care’ follows an inquiry which examined workforce burnout in the NHS and social care, in particular the increased pressures brought about by COVID-19.

'The danger is we do not see it'

In his oral evidence, Professor Michael West of the King’s Fund, explained to MPs sitting on the Committee, the relationship between excessive workload and burnout: “I want to be clear about the issue of excessive workload.

"The danger is that we do not see it. It is like the pattern on the wallpaper that we no longer see, but it is the No. 1 predictor of staff stress and staff intention to quit.”

09 Jun 2021

Historic manor that led England's 1966 World Cup footballers to victory transformed into care home

An old manor house that gave Bobby Charlton and the rest of England’s 1966 football squad a good night's sleep the night before they won the World Cup, has been transformed into a care home. Historic building retains its grandeur as Signature at Henden Hall care home. Credit: Signature at Henden Hall

Renamed Signature at Hendon Hall care home, the Grade II building was converted to a hotel in 1911 and played host to the England football team in the days leading up to their 1966 World Cup win at Wembley Stadium.

Originally known as Hendon Manor, the building in North West London is even mentioned in the Doomsday Book, giving details of what King William I could expect in taxes.

Hendon Hall in North West London is now being developed by the care operator Signature Senior Lifestyle to offer 100 apartments of different sizes.

As well as 100 apartments, Signature at Hendon Hall‘s dementia care complex will have 24 apartments that have been designed in line with the Gold Standard Framework from Stirling University, and are specifically for those living with memory loss.

09 Jun 2021

TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh becomes judge seeking best garden in care home contest

TV gardening presenter Alan Titchmarsh is the judge of a new competition to find the best care home garden.

Alan Titchmarsh has agreed to be a judge in Balhousie in Bloom, a new competition taking place across Balhousie Care Group’s 26 care homes.

As the flowers bloom this summer in care homes across the UK, out pops Alan Titchmarch to encourage care home residents to get out and garden.

Care home gardens have become 'even more special'

Refering to the pandemic and the impact of lockdowns, Alan Titchmarsh said: “Over the past year, our gardens and outdoor spaces have brought more joy to people than ever, offering a sanctuary, a place to relax and be closer to nature, and a place for activity and exercise.

“In care homes they have become even more special".

08 Jun 2021

Covid care home tragedy: we, the bereaved, need to know the full truth

Susan Hemmings would like to know the origins of the directive that led to elderly patients being discharged from hospitals without being tested for coronavirus

I was relieved to see, in letters (30 May), the truths gradually emerging on the care home tragedy. The unspeakable duty-of-care failure of both the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care has often been described as returning elderly patients to “their care homes” untested for Covid. Yes, that was bad enough. But what they also did was even worse. They billeted many of them, whose beds they were told were now needed, to care homes they did not in fact come from. Untested. The NHS complied with the DHSC directive and so did the care homes. They did not want to, but they did. I am among the traumatised bereaved. She was rapidly killed via an infected and untested incomer. All the staff could do was to weep as, pitifully poorly protected themselves in those first couple of weeks, they saw their loved long-term charges and some of their colleagues die one by one. Something they will never recover from. We need a thorough investigation of where that billeting directive originated, and exactly who thought that was ethical. That is owed to us.

08 Jun 2021

WATCH: Younger generation’s perceptions of care homes must change, research finds

Castleoak, the specialist care developer, has turned to University of Oxford students to understand perceptions of care homes among generation X, Y and Z and what they envisage for future care home environments.

The research partnership seeks to bring younger generations into the conversation in light of accelerated growth of the 85+ population and fears that care has become the ‘forgotten sector’ following failure to address reform as part of the Queen’s speech.

University of Oxford Student Consultancy, a programme for students run by the university to support local organisations, conducted research over an eight-week period which revealed that just one in six (15.7%) respondents have a positive perception of care homes.

07 Jun 2021
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