Carers under extreme pressure as they make visits amid coronavirus crisis

Carers have told ITV News they are having to take on extra responsibilities because district nurses and GPs are often unable to see patients in the community amid the coronavirus crisis.

Domiciliary carers - who visit vulnerable people living in their own homes - say they are having to take photos of wounds, collect medicines and hold video consultations with doctors in a bid to reduce contact and maintain social distancing.

Carers say they are picking up additional tasks in order to help other sectors with their capacity to respond to the demand - as all sectors are working 24/7 to support people at home as safely as possible.

Care teams are sometimes the only ones visiting clients with Covid-19 as visits are now limited to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

In Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, tireless workers at Care by Us find themselves having to make trips to the pharmacy to pick up medicine or prescriptions to bring back to the elderly.

Carer Penny Milsom told ITV News that she feels "honoured" to be able to step up and assist in the coronavirus efforts and complete additional tasks given that everyone is stretched and working round the clock in the community.

Carers like Penny Milsom say they can feel ignored.

“If the likes of us weren’t doing it, I don’t know who else would be,” said carer Penny Milsom.

Ms Milsom said for minor ailments calling and feeding back to district nurses is now standard practice in the current climate as well as sending them virtual evidence to help alleviate the pressures on district nurses in a collaborative effort.

Carers are not trained to treat some of the wounds or issues they see, but district nurses do not always want to visit and risk spread the respiratory disease to other patients, especially when the ailments are more minor.

As a result carers often arrange prescriptions via GPs.

There are about a dozen people with Covid-19 on Ms Milsom's rounds, and on Thursday she checked in on John, who tested negative after a spell in hospital and said he was “as weak as a kitten” when he came home.

An emotional Ms Milsom admitted it all gets too much for her at times.

“He’s just such a lovely man,” she said about John.

“And it does get to you every now and again, I’m sorry but it does.

"Emotions are running high, I try not to do this at work too often - I try to wait until I get home then I have a good sob in the bedroom.”

Alison Horne, Operations Director at Care by Us said: “We are working collaboratively with the district nurses who are doing a brilliant job and they fully support our care team, but we are having to adapt and work differently and help with what tasks we can as everyone is so very busy in their roles.

"We are trying to help each other. Everyone is stretched and working around the clock in the community ensuring everyone gets looked after and treated and the team are happy to help do their bit."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said they are doing “everything they can” to ensure the social care sector gets the support it needs.

“We have delivered over one billion items [of personal protective equipment] since the outbreak began, including to care homes, and there is a 24-hour NHS-run helpline where NHS and social care workers can call to report shortages in supply,” the spokesperson said.

“Our recently launched adult social care recruitment campaign, aims to attract thousands more workers and strengthen the care sector’s response to this pandemic even further.”