Care home manager speaks of 'sleepless nights' fearing for safety of staff and residents

A care home manager has told ITV News she is not sleeping at night over fears about the safety of the residents she cares for her and her staff, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

At Glan Rhos Nursing Home in Anglesey, there hasn't been a confirmed case of coronavirus, and Kim Ombler told ITV News that's how they want to keep it.

Bosses are buying in the personal protective equipment they need to protect staff and residents.

Ms Ombler said they were buying a box of a thousand aprons for £33 - which has now soared to £89 a box.

"The hike has just been unacceptable.

"I feel like we're the third class because everything is about the NHS and nothing about social care.

"I don't sleep a full night at home because we've got 51 residents and 78 staff - it's a headache and a worry."

Wales' health minister Vaughan Gething announced £40m to help the care sector on Tuesday, but the organisation which represents hundreds of homes said although the money was welcome, they were not confident it would all reach the front line.

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Older People's Commissioner for Wales Helena Herklots has since called on the government to make significant changes to help ensure that the sector is supported.

She continued "Older people and their families continue to raise significant concerns about the issues currently facing care homes, such as access to NHS treatment and services, testing for staff and residents, and the availability of vital PPE."

In her appeal to the Welsh Government, Herklots called for:

  • PPE is delivered effectively and consistently to care homes, and that they have adequate supplies of other infection control materials such as hand sanitizers.

  • Testing is available for residents showing symptoms of Covid-19 so that appropriate care and treatment can be provided safely by care staff and others.

  • Residents are able to access NHS services and treatment that they may need (including for Covid-19) and that there are no blanket policies applied excluding care home residents from receiving hospital treatment if their condition warrants it.

Ms Ombler's comments about PPE comes as ITV News learned of examples of care homes in Wales being prevented from ordering protective equipment reserved for England only.

One leading supplier said they are limiting the distribution of PPE to care homes in England.

Gompels said they have been told care homes in Wales and Scotland have alternate arrangements in place.

The Welsh Government says care homes should order PPE from their local councils, though the minister who took the daily coronavirus press conference conceded there are problems with distribution.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said equipment was available but there were "challenges getting the stocks out to the plethora of [social care] settings."