'I will never ever get over this': Wrexham care home boss 'devastated' after losing 13 residents to coronavirus

  • Video report from ITV Wales reporter, Ian Lang


A care home manager in Wrexham has been left "totally heartbroken" after losing 13 of her residents to coronavirus over the Christmas and New Year period.

Cindy Clutton has been working in social care since she was 16 years old and said she will "never ever get over" the trauma she has experienced over the past few weeks and month.

Ms Clutton and her team at Hillbury Care Home have battled to keep the virus at bay and had not lost anybody throughout the pandemic until December 18.

A recent surge in coronavirus cases in north Wales has been attributed to the new coronavirus strain. At a press briefing on Monday, the Welsh health minister said the new strain is, or will soon be, the dominant strain in the north of the country.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital have planned all routine surgery as they try to deal with the rising number of coronavirus patients being treated there.

Hillbury Care Home in Wrexham had not lost any residents to coronavirus until December last year. Credit: ITV Wales

Cindy Clutton said all of the staff at Hillbury Care Home, which is part of the Pendine Park group, are "utterly devastated" by the tragic loss.

Over the summer they had managed to contain an outbreak without any deaths when five people caught the illness.

"We did not lose anybody until December 18 and then we had the worst Christmas ever when we were facing unprecedented pressures," Ms Clutton said.

She added that the home had put an "enormous amount of effort and resources" into keeping residents and staff safe.

They locked down in early March, before the official government advice to do so. They also spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on extra PPE and built hand-washing and temperature checking stations to screen staff.

Hillbury Care Home in Wrexham is part of the Pendine Park Care Homes organisation. Credit: ITV Wales

Ms Clutton said the disease tore through the home so quickly it was "scary".

"The staff are also utterly devastated," she said.

"Unlike a hospital where people are generally in and out in a few weeks or less, you build a really close bond with your residents.

"They are like members of your extended family and we are privileged to provide care for them in their twilight years."

The care home manager did say that thankfully many residents have recovered from the virus and "life is slowly returning to normal with parties, music and laughter."

She thanked her "heroic" staff and the support they have had from families.

The Hillbury family will never forget the support and good wishes we have received. It's been quite amazing, especially over the Christmas period.

Cindy Clutton, Hillbury Care Home
Wrexham Council said: "We are confident every precaution has been taken to prevent further spread of infection within the home." Credit: ITV Wales

After being "pretty poorly" at home after contracting the virus herself, Ms Clutton has now recovered and is back at work leading her team.

She called the virus "a cruel and indiscriminate disease" and pleaded with people to take the virus seriously by adhering to coronavirus safety measures.

She said: "Anybody who thinks this virus is not a real and deadly threat should swap places with me and see how quickly and aggressively it can spread through a care home or a community like Wrexham."

Their priority at the home now is providing care for the remaining 40 residents and keeping them safe and well.

Ms Clutton hopes the vaccine will promise her residents a safer future but until then, there is still "a real and present danger."

This new strain has ramped up the threat to a whole new level and I hope we can get the vaccine to the residents in all the care homes in North Wales in the days ahead. With this virus, time is running out and as we found at Hillbury time can be against  you.

Cindy Clutton, Hillbury Care Home

Lawrence Isted, on behalf of the Incident Management Team at Wrexham Council, who is currently dealing with the outbreak at Hillbury Care Home, said: "We send our condolences and sincere sympathies to family, friends, residents and staff at the home.

"We have met regularly since the outbreak was first confirmed to bring it under control and we will continue to offer our support throughout this difficult period.

"We are confident every precaution has been taken to prevent further spread of infection within the home and the safety of residents and staff remains everyone's number one priority."