Exclusive poll shows true extent of coronavirus crisis in care homes

More than 40% of carers surveyed in an exclusive poll for ITV News say they are dealing with suspected cases of Covid-19 in care homes.

Providing the largest snapshot yet of the crisis in our care sector, the survey of over 2,800 carers found 42% were looking after residents who had suspected Covid-19.

A further 28% said they were dealing with cases which had been officially confirmed.

Furthermore, 12% said that they were aware of staff who’d also tested positive.

The responses to the poll, carried out in conjunction with carehome.co.uk, suggest that the virus may be spreading much faster in care settings than the government suggests.

On Thursday, the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said that only 15% of care homes had reported cases.

The sector still struggles to confirm suspected cases of coronavirus due to a lack of testing.

On Wednesday, the government promised that all residents and carers who needed a test in England would be able to access to one, but 80% of those surveyed said that there has been no screening of staff so far, and 75% said that residents hadn’t been tested either.

  • Paul Brand on how care home residents and workers do not feel their part of the Covid-19 story is being told, as the data for the sector remains unclear.

ITV News has been reporting on the crisis in care, including the lack of protective equipment.

This week the government promised to get more PPE to the front line, but 54% of carers said they still don’t have the protection they need to carry out their jobs safely.

The survey also suggests that Covid-19 is having an impact on carers’ mental as well as physical health.

As ITV News reported earlier this month, care home staff are often the only people allowed into a resident’s room before they die with Covid-19, leaving carers with the full burden of saying goodbye.

Thirty-two per cent of those who responded to the survey said that they need help with their mental health as a result of the crisis while 83% are anxious about transmitting the virus to their own families at home.

Matt Hancock announced that all care home residents and workers would have access to a test. Credit: PA

The survey is only an indication of what's happening in the care sector, but until the government provides more data, it is arguably the most comprehensive picture we have.

And it would imply that a sector which specialises in providing care doesn't necessarily feel like it is receiving it.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to reduce the number of infections – and care homes are an absolute priority.

“We are working hard to rapidly scale up testing and PPE deliveries, with everyone going into a care home from hospital now being tested with immediate effect.

“Already, over 4,000 care workers have been referred to testing, and over 10,000 care residents have been tested.

"On top of this, we are providing guidance to help minimise the spread of infection within care settings, including advice on safe discharge from the NHS, and when isolation is recommended.”

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know