DEADLY THREAT FACING CARE HOMES
Owner: I’d rather close than carry on underfunded and with staff lacking vital protection gear:
ACONCERNED care home owner says authorities need to learn lessons from Spain to avoid mass deaths of residents from coronavirus.
Glyn Williams, who runs the Gwyddfor Residential Home in Bodedern, Anglesey, claims his care home is underfunded and staff are lacking personal protective equipment (PPE).
He said he would rather close if he can’t protect his residents and staff properly.
Mr Williams, a council member of Care Forum Wales which represents more than 450 independent providers, outlined his concerns in a letter to Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth.
The issue hit close to home after it was reported last week that two residents of the Gwynedd Council run Plas Penwaith in Llanberis, died after contracting Covid-19.
Mr Williams said it was “ludicrous” that Anglesey Council had calculated its own standard fee weekly fee to be £760 for council-run homes compared to the £585.72 Gwyddfor receives per resident every week.
He said it was unfair during normal times but was making life “utterly impossible” during the current national emergency.
In the letter, Mr Williams also claims that staff are not provided with enough PPE, and despite buying as much as he can get his hands on, Mr Williams says those supplies would only last around three days if they need to use it.
The home has reorganised shifts, taken on extra staff and bought two military mess tents and used them to convert their atrium into a three-stage decontamination facility.
He added that he does not think the council has taken onboard how serious this outbreak is going to be, “and that we are now on our own”.
“You only have to look at Spain and the elderly residents found abandoned and dead in their beds. We have a very short space of time within which to protect the most vulnerable on Anglesey and VALUE our staff.
“I can understand why this happened in Spain, inadequate PPE, undervalued and under trained staff. Staff numbers decreasing. Can you imagine how scared staff must have been trying to look after and isolate wandering dementia residents’ who don’t have a clue what’s happening to them.
“I’m sure they would have got to the stage of locking them in their rooms with staff too frightened to go in. All the signs are there for us to learn from, and we’re not learning.
“Care Forum Wales have been saying that a perfect storm is brewing, it’s just turned into a Category 5 hurricane.
“I now have to think about the future viability of my business, and whether or not I can provide a safe and high standard of care. Quite frankly, I would rather close than continue at the current underfunded levels.”
He said he has approached Anglesey Council to see if they could subsidise residents up to a private client’s standard fee instead of the “totally inadequate authority funding levels”.
It was a sentiment echoed by Mario Kreft MBE, the chairman of Care
Forum Wales, who has revealed that care home owners feel abandoned.
Mr Kreft added: “We can’t allow care homes to become collateral damage otherwise more people are going to die than would otherwise be the case.
“This crisis will challenge us all, and we must work as one in the deepest of partnerships to ensure that as many people as possible are saved.”
An Isle of Anglesey County Council spokesperson said: “We set our fees based on a regional fee modelling tool used consistently as a base for fees across North Wales.
“We understand that this is a difficult time, and continue to discuss ways in which we can support providers. We fully support the need to protect staff and residents in accordance with Welsh Government Guidelines.”
A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: “As a Council, we understand and share the concern of care providers and their staff regarding a suitable supply of adequate PPE. This matter has been discussed on numerous occasions with representatives from the Welsh and UK Governments at the highest possible level.
“We are in close daily contact with the private care sector and as more supplies come through, we will be responding to the needs of individual care providers. “As well as requesting further supplies, last week we sent an appeal out to local businesses and organisations for any suitable stocks of PPE that they could share with us. Whilst this is far from ideal, we have received a fantastic response so far, and all the PPE we have received is currently being sorted and prepared for distribution over the coming days.”
■ Elderly residents found abandoned and dead in their beds during the Covid-19 pandemic in Spain... and care home boss Glyn Williams (below) fears it will happen in Wales too