Ian Lang meets with staff at the care home forced to bring in colleagues with coronavirus
A care home on Anglesey has been forced to draft in staff with coronavirus because it has no one else to care for its residents. The scenario happened at the Caledonia home in Holyhead, Anglesey, where 11 of the residents have coronavirus themselves.Owner Ann Bedford said the 15-bed home, which specialises in dementia care, only continued operating over the weekend because two members of staff who had tested positive for Covid agreed to man the night shift, caring for the residents who also have the virus.Ms Bedford, who has run the home since 1987, was told by Isle of Anglesey Council that they did not have anybody available that they could send to help.
It normally has a team between 13 and 15 staff, including a manager, two full-time senior carers, a rota of approximately 11 part-time care staff, two cooks and two cleaners.But over the weekend, with so many of the team off ill or self-isolating, they had no night staff and only three day staff, no cleaners and only one cook.She said, "Even before Covid impacted on us, residential homes were struggling to recruit and now there is absolutely no spare capacity in the system, nowhere to turn."
"I have never known a situation as bad as we faced over the last weekend. As a matter of course we have contingency plans in place to cope in emergencies but even these buckled under the strain. My heart sinks when I think about for the weeks and months ahead."
She said she cannot give enough praise to the two staff who volunteered to come in despite having the virus themselves."I feel desperately sorry that we were in a position where we had no choice other than to call on them," she added.All the residents of Caledonia care home are double vaccinated, including the 11 of them who have tested positive.The Caledonia is now in lockdown, unable to accept any more residents and closed to visitors until September 29.Ms Bedford also runs another small-scale facility four miles away, the 15-bed Plas Dyffryn care home.She said, "At one stage over the weekend the authorities advised us to transfer staff from there to Caledonia but that would put staff and residents at Plas Dyffryn at increased risk. "The sad truth is that we should not be in a position where such desperate measures are even on the table. We are in a more precarious state than ever before."
In response, an Isle of Anglesey County Council spokesperson said the care sector and local councils are facing recruitment challenges which have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic - but said it "rejects claims" that this care home was "abandoned".
“Decisions in respect of emergency care provision at the Caledonia have been taken in the best interest of residents. Our officers, together with colleagues in health, have worked very closely with Ms Bedford to respond to her staffing shortages since this issue was brought to our attention.”
“Our staff and those from health have worked to identify shift cover at the Caledonia until the weekend ensuring that residents do not have to leave their home. We have provided a great deal of support during what is an extremely challenging period for all involved and will continue to do so.”
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government said it was "looking into the circumstances as a matter of urgency."
“We know the sector is under exceptional pressure but we are very concerned to hear a report of staff being asked to work despite testing positive for COVID."
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a hike in National Insurance for everyone in the UK. The money will be used in England to fix social care in England.
Wales is set to receive an extra £700m by 2024-25 as a result of the increase.
Some of it will go directly to the NHS in Wales because it comes from National Insurance contributions, but some of it will go to the Welsh Government who can decide how to spend it.