Home Blackpool An Interview with Kate Blyth an insight into Care Homes, during Covid...

An Interview with Kate Blyth an insight into Care Homes, during Covid 19.

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Kate and I had a discussion this afternoon and here is an insight into Care Homes, during Covid 19 and the concerns that Care Homes have had to deal with unexpectedly.

I contacted Kate Blyth who was Vice Chair of the Fylde Coast Care Providers last year and who is still awaiting official confirmation of Chair Person this year, I believe you were also on the safe guarding committee, last year.

1 : Congratulations on being one of the few Care Homes on the Fylde Coast to be virus free throughout this whole crisis.

Yes we are so proud of us, the whole team are so dedicated to keeping the home safe, even isolating when they go home at night. We had a strategy in place should we need to lock down fully ( staff staying over ) it was a no brainer really, they all volunteered to be considered for this role but thankfully we haven’t needed to do that. The singles didn’t hesitate and those with family spoke with their partners who also agreed if needs be now, they were in full support… how’s that for a tear jerker. It gives me a lump in my throat just the thought of how selfless they are, being prepared to step up to the plate should the need arise. All management were included in this decision too.

2. How do you feel you managed to stay virus free?

We took a management decision to shut down ahead of the other Care Home, about a week for some 2 weeks before others. We have a great team of housekeepers, and all staff are trained in infection control hand hygiene and numerous other subjects including the recent Covid exams plus we had stack loads of PPE, the only thing we needed to source were hazmat suits, we had the rest in spades, in fact we supported a couple of other homes who were caught unaware of the greedy attitude of some retailers. Every store said Care Providers were to have priority, on sanitizers gloves masks aprons etc. That has been the bone of contention all along there was NO PRIORITY for Care Providers at all. So we in South Shore stuck together and supported each other in fact I know The Ambassador is virus free so is the Avonbloom and The Thornlea well done and congratulations to all mentioned, “go team South Shore”. King Edward in North Shore is also virus free. Not to leave any others out, we have just never been advised of any others without it.

3. Talking of PPE, is it as bad as it has been made out to be in the press?

That’s a tough call, because I have contacts in USA German and other parts of Europe, we managed to get everything we needed from our usual suppliers here in the UK. I only needed one delivery of masks from Germany and one from the US, but then when you are going through over 75 masks a day, that is far more than normal. If any of the Care Providers contacted me, I sent them a link of my contacts and they got what they needed.

The hospitals for sure, were desperate they needed scrubs we do not use them. My heart went out to them, because on the front line, you need all the protection you can get. People just done seem to get it, this virus is deadly, forget the annoyance of having to self-isolate and yes for some with no facilities like a garden etc its extremely testing. I agree in domestic abuse situations they have to get out of lockdown to safety. The frontline workers are something else, its like going to war against an unseen enemy, its lurking round the corner to take hold of you at any time. They know what they are dealing with and were prepared for it, so they had the heads up of knowing how to deal with it safely. The Care Providers didn’t get that heads up.

4. That is another question I wanted clarification on? Why do you think Care Homes were so affected by this?

I am aware it has been alleged there was one Care home were the staff were lax and didn’t think outside of the box, partied socialised and didn’t take as many precautions as 

they should of , so they affected that particular home, going through it like a dose of salts. The other was discharge teams not having the facility to test people on discharge from the hospitals and being returned to the homes with the virus. In some cases new residents coming in from hospitals with the virus, so unless you were of the mind to trust the system ( thankfully we didn’t ) you could have had staff and residents down with it as happened in the majority of homes on the Fylde Coast. Its an unforgiving condition as you don’t see it coming, not like the pox, where you know the individual has it because you can see it, people will automatically distance themselves in that case. That is the problem anyone, anywhere could have it and pass it on, you just can’t see it. I fully support the distancing and the handwashing masks etc. to remain in play for the foreseeable future.

5. Do you feel you have had enough support since this crisis.

Wow that is an open-ended question.

The government as you know sent 300 masks to all Care Homes at the beginning, its for the Care Providers to make sure they get what is needed for their team, the virus hit the Care Homes so quickly it caught some of them unaware. They had stocked up slightly more than was needed of PPE, as we knew it was in the town but just never expected it to move so fast.  When you get it in a home the comparison of usage of PPE to a normal week of PPE is 10-fold, no one expected that.

We are a 20 bed Care facility; we have 23 team members. Apron x 1 each in a day maybe 2 if the situation arises. normal use of gloves, you throw them away after every specific infection control task, so possibly using 10 pairs a day each normally, masks were only every used maybe once a week by some of the team not all. We never had a need for goggles or visors then, we do now, we didn’t need hazmat suits, we have them just in case, or even for use for isolating someone with a negative test result coming back from hospital, because the tests have been known to be wrong.

The council cancelled all Care Provider meetings and have held support groups and updated daily in some cases where rules have changed so fast. On one day alone we had a change of timing for a conference call 3 times so they could keep up to speed with the changes that were coming in daily. The paperwork involved with this although necessary you have enough to do as it is, without having to tick box every day on certain issues. I have been made aware by other care providers the council have been approachable in this crisis and are doing what they can to be supportive. Some providers were caught short of PPE and the council stepped up to assist. Most Providers sourced their own PPE.

You cannot apportion blame to the council for lack of testing, that’s down to the government, we have only just been tested for all residents and team this week. Blackburn’s Feng Shui Home all came back negative and we are not expecting any difference for Blackpool. As those that have been returned are all negative results, we are just waiting for 5 more to come back.

6 Have you suffered any financial loss we hear there is £600.000.000 to be used across the country for councils to support Homes in this time of Crisis.

I know every home has, whether virus free or not, with sick pay, excessive PPE costs, extra staff, overtime, the list is extensive. I am not sure how they plan to apportion this. I have been informed it depends on your bed capacity we are a 20 bed home, it has not been made clear how they propose to address this issue but either way I feel sure it will be controversial. Our outlay is between £15.000/£20.000 off the top of my head, over the 3 months period to date, not a figure to be sniffed at, not all homes can budget for that kind of expenditure, then on top of that with residents passing the numbers come down on occupancy, but your staff costs stay the same. If a Care Home takes a hit of say 10 deaths in a home it won’t survive, if its less than a 25 bed home. Originally, we were informed if a resident goes into hospital without the virus but comes back with it, we had to take them back. All these meetings are recorded so I am not mistaken on that comment. But I am now being made aware that 2 homes have informed me that even though many residents had the virus the council/social worker will not put the residents back in the home they came from. The provider cant see why this is the case now, so you can see where this would lead to confusion. Should the residents needs change then no Care Provider would have an issue with that, but I am led to believe this is not the case. This is causing concern amongst some Care Providers as not only are they having to face all the emotional turmoil of losing someone they cared deeply for who has passed away but a double whammy is to lose a resident to another care home when they should be returned to the original home in the first place. There is a distinct feeling amongst some members of the group that certain homes are being corralled into closure. Care Providers want the Providers meeting back in place, me too as I am now inundated with questions by so many Care Managers etc.

One such question is after Covid 19 will the council now review the Care fees in view of the national exposure of the in pro parity of social care funding? My comment to this whole situation is Ad Hominem ( to the person as usual ) look to the content of the critical thinking of those in this situation who believe this to be true. It appears there is a clear conflict of interest arising here.

7 Is there anyone you feel needs a special mention that gets overlooked in this crisis

The palliative nurses are angels, they are dealing with death all the time, regardless of Covid 19. They have the right amount of empathy, professionalism and such a calm demeanour, we cannot fault any of them. These are stressful times, these girls have an innate sense of compassion. They never show attitude or complacency to any situation involving families dealing with someone’s passing which can be extremely traumatic in itself so my vote goes to the Palliative Care team.

8 is there any thing you feel would help our listeners to help themselves as the lockdown subsides

Just keep doing what you have been doing, wash your hands use sanitizers, put a scarf over your mouth if you can’t find or make a mask. Don’t go running wearing a mask, you could be the next in the hospital if you pass out. Keep a reasonable distance, one of my pet hates is people dodging round you like you have the plague, its not necessary. Just stay safe 

Thanks Kate as ever a very frank direct an honest account of the situation right now.

Anyone looking for a home for your loved ones contact Kate. Where nothing is to much trouble and they are really made to feel at home.

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