Coronavirus: Care homes struggle to get food and call for more help

  • Video report: concerns from care home managers across the South

Vulnerable people living in care homes across our region are struggling to get food because there aren't enough delivery slots available.

To make the situation worse, there's been a shortage of essential food in supermarkets because of panic buyers with limits, on some items, now in place on what can be bought.

We’ve spoken to care home owners from around the South who’re telling us the same thing…there needs to be more support.

Care Homes say they're struggling to get food Credit: ITV Meridian

After a week of panic buying at supermarkets across the UK online delivery slots were quickly taken up and now there are limits to how much people can buy.

For care homes big and small, many are experiencing the same struggles just trying to feed their elderly residents.

Jacqui Barham manages a care home with 20 residents at Hythe in Kent.

She can no longer receive an online order for Tesco because she can’t buy enough and the slots are now too far in advanced.

It means her going from supermarket to supermarket, taking herself away from doing her job, to ensure everyone is fed.

Jacqui Barham is calling for more support. Credit: ITV Meridian

“We’re highly regulated like hospitals, we still care for the elderly. I don’t see any help coming to us. Last week was absolutely horrendous I ended up in tears in Tesco just trying to buy soup for some very poorly people. People look at you as though something is wrong with you when you try to put more than one thing in your basket."

David Steedman runs Arlington House Care Home in Hove and like Jacqui is experiencing exactly the same problems.

He’s concerned time being taken to go out and buy food means his team is having to spend more time outside, when everyone is being told to stay at home.

"We need Government legislation. There has to be differentiation between care homes and nursing homes going shopping in a supermarket. We are obviously catering for a larger group of people and those people are some of the most vulnerable in society."

It's not just food Kylie's struggling to find for her residents Credit: ITV Meridian

It's not just food, at Lavender House in Southampton they're finding it difficult to get essential cleaning products.

Kylie Ely-Phelps is the Deputy Manager, she said: "The anti-bac, the handwash and the sanitisers which we can't get hold of which is vital for our care staff to safe."

Stocks are low and limits on items are making it even more difficult for care homes Credit: ITV Meridian

ITV News contacted the big supermarkets who deliver food to ask them what they’re doing to support organisations such as care homes.

Sainsbury’s this week made changes to its online delivery system to prioritise elderly and vulnerable customers.

Tesco directed any care home struggling to get food to its wholesaler, Booker, a spokesperson said:“To help our customers get the things they need at this time, we have introduced limits of 3 items per product.

“We have seen a surge in demand in recent days and while there have been empty shelves and shortages of some products as a result, we have daily deliveries to replenish our stores and are working around the clock to restock our shelves.

“We would ask our customers to buy only what they need so that there is enough for everyone.”

Waitrose said: "We are currently working on ways to support our elderly and vulnerable customers with food deliveries and stuff is coming soon. In the meantime, many of our shops are supporting at a local level, supporting and donating food wherever they can. We've also got a community fund at each shop which aims to take action for customers that need it."

Morrisons and Asda are yet to confirm if they are putting any extra measures in place.

ITV Meridian did contact the Government and is waiting for a statement.