CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Worker: ‘Care home visited by decorators’

Staff members at Wellesley Road Care Home raise concerns about the handling of Covid-19

30 April, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Staff have said they are “frightened” after a number of deaths at the home

NEW concerns about how the coronavirus was tackled at a care home, where at least three residents have died, have been raised by a care worker.

The staff member, speaking on condition of anonymity, questioned a series of steps taken at the Wellesley Road Care Home in Gospel Oak, which is run by private operators Shaw Healthcare on a council contract.

A number of workers fear a further eight deaths at the home are related to Covid-19.

They said that temperature checks on staff stopped when a thermometer broke, that painters and decorators were allowed inside the building after a ban on visitors and that workers were not given strong enough personal protective equipment (PPE).

Domestics falling sick affected how well the six-room home was cleaned, the care worker added. Sometimes known as the “hidden front line”, care homes across the country have faced the challenge of trying to keep the virus out or stopping its spread among residents vulnerable to its worst effects.

On the visit of workmen, the source said: “I just couldn’t understand it. No family members or anyone else could visit but the decorators were allowed in. Surely that’s not essential?”

They added: “From what I saw they were asked to sign a disclaimer form at reception saying they didn’t have coronavirus symptoms and then they were free to enter. But not everyone carrying the virus has symptoms.”

Wellesley Road was once run in-house by the council but operations were handed to Shaw when it was rebuilt eight years ago.

The new description of how the crisis has been handled comes after other members of staff contacted the New Journal to say they were “frightened” over the potential spread of the coronavirus.

Shaw said homes were advised against allowing contractors into the home, apart from those needed to carry out essential work such as ensuring heat and electricity to the services.

However, one job was allowed to be completed by decorators at Wellesley Road as they had started work before the decision was made, and it took around one week to complete.

The company added said that it replaced thermometers that had run out of battery as quickly as possible, and that they were getting regular deliveries of PPE.

Mike Smith, the company’s chief operating officer, said: “We are following the national guidelines for self-isolation and social distancing of key workers.

Any employees who have been identified positive by a GP or the NHS are self-isolating or shielding and we are using existing staff or agencies to backfill shifts, which is working well.”

Camden Council said it was continuing to support care homes on a daily basis, making sure they have enough supplies of PPE and can supply them with more if they are struggling to source any.

The council said social care staff are now able to access testing through multiple means including, drive-through tests, tests at walk-in centres and home tests.

A spokesperson said: “Shaw Healthcare has actively engaged with the council throughout this time.”

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