Care homes refusing to take in patients ready to leave NHS hospitals

A number of issues exposed in this article. Care home managers are refusing to accept elderly people discharged from NHS hospitals because testing for coronavirus is not a requirement under discharge guidance issued by the government last week.

Raises the matter of  our government’s unpreparedness with regard to testing, testing, testing.

Owl also wonders whether this applies to Abbeyfield who don’t seem deterred from shuffling vulnerable residents around the County in order to meet their self-imposed administrative deadlines to close care homes that should be in lockdown.

Then, of course, we need to remember all those who supported the closure of our local community hospitals. Especially those who actively criticised Claire Wright and others campaigning to keep them open. “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked” (Warren Buffett) – hold that thought – Owl.

Amelia Hill 

Care home managers are refusing to accept elderly people discharged from NHS hospitals owing to coronavirus fears, and one has said government-issued protective equipment for residents and staff is “completely useless”.

David Steedman, the manager of Arlington House care home in Sussex, said he had five empty rooms but he was not taking in people discharged from hospital as it would be “madness” to expose residents and staff to the risk of infection.

On Friday it was announced that every social care provider in the country would receive deliveries of personal protective equipment including masks. Social care workers will start being tested for coronavirus along with NHS staff from next week.

“The personal protective equipment issued for staff is laughable,” Steedman said. “These masks, as well as having an expiry date of 2016, are the sort of flimsy, paper thing that dentists wear with gaps all round the edges. The instructions say they should be used if a resident has symptoms of the virus or actually has it. But these masks are completely useless in those situations.”

He added: “The government needs to take a reality check if they genuinely think otherwise. The hospitals are desperately trying to empty beds so they can take new people in, who have the virus, but we can’t help them because they don’t have the equipment to test those they’re discharging.”

NHS trusts have been trying to discharge patients to free up capacity. Testing for the virus is not a requirement under discharge guidance issued by the government last week.

“I’d be mad to let anyone into my home without a test showing they’re free of the virus,” Steedman said. “It’s my responsibility to keep safe the hugely vulnerable residents who are in my care already. It would be dangerous foolishness on my part to accept any hospital discharges who might bring the virus into our home.”

Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, said Steedman and other care home managers he knew of who were also refusing to accept NHS discharges should be praised for their stance. “Care homes simply can’t afford to let anyone in unless they’re confirmed not to be carrying the virus. The consequences of doing otherwise are just too awful to consider,” he said.

“Care homes are going into crisis mode because the second there’s a symptom of the virus in the home, there are layers upon layers of failure from the state to support them. The state is failing to test residents or staff quickly enough and they’re failing to issue suitable equipment.”

He added: “The failures are particularly shameful because not only are these people who have spent their lives paying into the system and deserve dignity, but the equipment is simple and straightforward and the state should be able to supply it.”

A senior director at a London acute trust, who asked not to be named, told the Health Service Journal: “There’s a real problem with private care homes refusing to take patients back unless they’ve been tested for Covid-19. But [testing] is not the national guidance currently and there just aren’t enough testing kits to do it.

“I’m now on calls with commissioners about getting more people out of hospital and into the community, and they’re saying: ‘Yes, that’ll be done in the next week,’ and I’m on the verge of screaming at them.”

Another acute sector director in north-west England said: “We need care homes to be really robust. We’ve been hearing from colleagues that nursing homes won’t accept their residents back after they’ve been discharged from hospital, unless they’ve been fully swabbed for coronavirus. This is not the national guidance, and we aren’t able to do that right now. This could cause a huge issue.”

On Saturday the health secretary, Matt Hancock, wrote an open letter of thanks to social care workers. Hancock, who is in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, said the government was committed to doing “whatever is needed” for social care and the NHS, including allowing workers from both sectors free parking in council-owned spaces.

“Whilst many people are now staying at home, I know that is not an option for most of you as your work caring for others cannot be done from home,” he wrote. “We will do all we can to make your lives easier during this period, including, for example, making parking on council-owned on-street spaces and car parks free for those who work in social care.

“We are committed to doing whatever is needed; that promise applies just as much to social care as it does for the NHS.”


One thought on “Care homes refusing to take in patients ready to leave NHS hospitals

  1. Of course it would be madness to expose residents and staff to risk of infection, they would then be on the slippery slope downwards. The care homes must have the testing done and they need and deserve to have correct protective equipment as do all the NHS staff , it should be about testing testing testing.
    And NO we do not forget those who supported the closure of our community hospitals, we remember more than ever about those who betrayed us.


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