Covid has been confirmed in around half of Devon’s care homes

Devon County Council (DCC) has revealed that out of the 317 care homes in the county, currently around half have two or more linked cases of Covid among staff and residents.

Anita Merritt 

Last month, Devon Live reported how Covid outbreaks in Devon’s care homes had reached their highest level since the pandemic began.

Figures presented to the county council’s health and adult care scrutiny committee revealed that, as of 10 January, there were 160 such outbreaks in care settings across Devon.

The number was far higher than the previous peak of just over 90 a year ago, with the total number of active outbreaks tripling in less than a month.

Sadly the situation has not improved going into February. DCC has assured care homes are working hard to manage infection, mitigate risk, and to protect their residents and staff from coronavirus.

Where there are outbreaks – two or more linked positive cases – those care homes are said to be working even more closely with Public Health Devon to follow temporary additional measures to reduce risk.

Recently the government has changed its guidance over care home visiting rules to allow more visits.

Due to the high Covid numbers currently affecting Devon’s care homes, the relaxation of the rules is causing great concern to many care home providers in the region. It is feared that opening up to visitors right now will put residents and staff at greater risk of infection.

Under the new national rules, care home visitors are asked to make arrangements with care homes in advance of their visit, so that care home providers can manage the number of people attending at any one time, to ensure safety for residents and staff.

Steve Brown, Devon’s director of public health, said: “Visiting loved ones and friends who live in care homes is vitally important to the resident’s wellbeing.

“We want there to come a time soon when additional restrictions will not be needed, but while cases in Devon care homes remain high, we ask visitors to make arrangements with their care home in advance of their visit, so that the care home can manage risk of infection to residents and staff.

“We also ask that visitors follow the care home’s own policy, through careful hand hygiene, wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment, and using lateral flow device tests prior to visiting.”