Staff despair after Wellington care home loses ten residents to Covid

  • Watch Ben McGrail's report

Staff at a care home in Wellington, where ten residents died with Covid-19 over Christmas 2020, have been talking about the heartbreak and anxiety they have faced during the pandemic.

Linden House lost almost a third of its residents as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic and had 80% of its staff self-isolating over the Christmas period.

Workers there have recorded video diaries for a Somerset County Council video in the hope of highlighting how hard it is to work in the industry at the moment.

Sandra Joyce, owner of the nursing home, said: “We are now over the worst of the outbreak at Linden House, but the emotional toll coronavirus has taken on our residents, staff and families is not going to go away quickly.

"I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my staff. Those who did not succumb to Covid-19 at the very beginning of the outbreak worked unbelievably hard in horrendous conditions - working grueling shifts with few breaks to cover staff who tested positive, watching in horror as loved residents died, with barely a break to cry.

“Despite this, not one of them complained to me. In fact, they continually offered to do more.

"Many of them, when they eventually tested positive themselves, would call me in tears, feeling that they had let down those of us left working."

Senior carer Rachel Ellis said the experience over Christmas was 'one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in all my years of care' Credit: Somerset County Council

In January, figures showed that deaths from Covid-19 in care homes have hit levels not seen since May 2020.

Rachel Ellis, a senior carer at the home, said: "Working at Linden through the outbreak of Covid is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in all my years of care.

"The days just seem so long and never-ending.

"Every morning I’d get up to go to work - I’d feel anxious and feel upset about what I was going back into and worrying about the residents and my colleagues."

Assistant Administrator Laura Paul said she felt 'guilty every time I leave' Credit: Somerset County Council

Assistant administrator Laura Paul said: "I feel guilty every time I leave. I feel guilty that I’m walking away from people there being left in such a stressful situation.

"I leave there every day wishing that I could have done more. I’m feeling quite useless at the moment."

Sandra Joyce has run Linden House since 2004. She says her team wanted to shine a light on their industry.

She said: “It is impossible not to form strong, loving bonds in social care, and I feel honoured that I get to spend time at work with people who start off as complete strangers and within a very short time become part of the family.”

Blogging about Linden House, Tim Baverstock, Somerset County Council's Deputy Director of Adult Social Care, said: "Personalised care and support, at home or in care homes, is precious to the people we support and is something we need to stabilise in the first instance and then value and invest in for the future."

Somerset County Council Leader David Fothergill said: “I would like to thank Sandra and all the staff at Linden House for their tremendous courage and fortitude. By bravely sharing their story, they have once again put social care in the spotlight.

“They are not alone - behind closed doors, this merciless virus has had a devastating impact on all care homes. This is not a reflection on anyone working in the care sector, who deserve the highest praise for going above and beyond in unimaginable circumstances.

“We have repeatedly called for greater recognition of social care and will continue to do so ahead of the Government’s proposals for reform which are due to be published later this year.”

The NHS recently confirmed all older residents in England’s eligible care homes have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine.

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