Care homes in Wales 'straining under significant pressure' of Covid-19

34 care homes in Carmarthenshire are said to be dealing with or recovering from cases of Covid-19 Credit: PA

Care homes in Wales are "straining under the significant pressure" of Covid -19, that's according to one local authority.

Carmarthenshire County Council has had to step in, temporarily taking over the management of one care home in Newcastle Emlyn, after so many of its staff were unable to work.

Privately-owned Glyn Nest residential home has space for up to thirty residents, one of which is Bryn Evans.

87 year old Bryn Evans has lived at Glyn Nest Care home around 3 years Credit: Elen Morgan

His granddaughter Elen said the situation has left the family feeling helpless.

"The biggest worry is that he's going to contract the virus and obviously we can't see him or anything, so if he does catch it we just live in the hope that he'll be able to come through it."

"There was talks of taking them out of the care home, the last resort would have been to move them to another council-run care home in Llanelli. You've got to think of their mental health in all this as well".

Bryn Evans delivered mackerel in West Wales for a large part of his younger life Credit: Elen Morgan

87-year-old Bryn, who has dementia, spent a large part of his life delivering mackerel in the summer months in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, and distributed the Western Mail for 30 years.

Elen says it's been difficult to see him deteriorate throughout the pandemic, and not be able to give him a hug.

Elen says the family feel helpless about her grandfather's situation Credit: Elen Morgan

"He's at that stage where he knows the pandemic is going on but he doesn't quite understand everything about it so he'll often ask, 'can you come down to see me', or 'can I come out for a bit'. He doesn't quite grasp the whole concept of it all."

Unfortunately Glyn Nest residential home is not unique in its struggles.

Across Carmarthenshire 34 care homes are currently dealing with, or recovering from cases of Covid-19.

The Leader of the Council described the situation as "being taken to the cliff edge".

Speaking to ITV Wales, Councillor Emlyn Dole said he wanted the public to "get the seriousness" of the situation.

"You might think it's just a plan for care homes and it's over there and somebody else will sort it, we're all a part of it, and we can't disengage from it", he said.

Karen & David Fisher say they have 'nothing but praise' for the staff looking after Karen's father Credit: ITV Wales

Karen Fisher's father is also in a care home in the area, which has had to go into lockdown three times after staff and a resident in one case, tested positive.

She says she has nothing but praise for the home and the staff who look after him, but says the situation as a whole is still concerning.

"If our home had gone down, what would have happened to my Dad? We couldn't cope with him at home with the medication and everything, they're equipped to be able to care."

"We are very lucky that the home he's in is really caring they're really on the ball with it."

"It was extremely hard not seeing at Christmas, the first time in my 54 years I've not spent it with him. I believe that a family member should be given key worker status and be tested along with staff to enable visits to their loved ones this is the only criticism I have of the home and this in part is down to he Welsh government and local authorities who have really let the residents in our care home down."

Darren Umanee (right), runs two care homes in Pembrokeshire Credit: Darren Umanee

Darren Umanee runs Brooklands Nursing Home in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire.

He told ITV Wales this year had been difficult and isolating.

"We've had a number of staff go off with shielding or isolating and obviously that's caused extra pressures, thankfully the team have pulled together, covered shifts at short notice, but it's been quite an isolated time really obviously no visitors no relatives, we've sort of been there on our own really".

Speaking to ITV Wales Darren also praised other care homes, and said "my heart goes out to them".

Darren says all his staff have 'made really big sacrifices' to keep the home safe, and have pulled together throughout the pandemic Credit: Darren Umanee

"Thankfully in Pembrokeshire we were quite lucky compared to other parts of Wales", he said.

"What some care homes in Wales were facing, my heart really goes out to the staff and the residents there. They do an amazing job in really difficult circumstances."

"Hopefully in the next few weeks we can start the (vaccination) programme with the residents. Some of our staff have had their vaccinations now so there is some encouragement out there now hopefully".

The most up-to-date figures released by Public Health Wales show just over 49,403 people in Wales have so far received their first vaccination.

On Saturday, Dr Christopher Williams, Incident Director for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said the roll-out of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will continue this week, with the first patients receiving their vaccine on Monday.

"Vaccinating the adult population of Wales, to protect people from severe disease, is a significant task, and the vaccine will take time to reach everyone. The epidemiology of COVID-19 throughout the UK in late 2020 showed a clear need for rapid, high levels of vaccine uptake among vulnerable persons."

"The effects of the vaccines may not be seen nationally for some time, and with Wales at alert level four we must continue to follow the advice on keeping Wales safe.  Stay at home, meet only the people you live with, maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and work from home if you can."