Harrogate care homes welcome new funding opportunity after feeling 'isolated and alone' during coronavirus battle

A Harrogate care network has said steps are now being taken to help the sector - but it could be too little too late as they say they have have been left struggling for funding and with little support through most of the crisis.

Friday, 22nd May 2020, 11:12 am

Following a shortage of PPE and lack of options for coronavirus tests, care operators in Harrogate say they have been left feeling unsafe and isolated during the pandemic.

And while Sue Cawthray, CEO of Harrogate Neighbours, says things now seem to be moving forwards - with more readily available testing and supplies - it does not change the situation they found themselves in at the beginning of the lockdown.

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Harrogate care homes say the coronavirus has taken its toll.

She said: “When this all started we were left feeling very isolated and alone - everything was such a challenge.

“Getting tests for both residents and staff, getting the correct PPE and making sure everyone was safe, no one made it easy for us.

“We felt a bit forgotten about and it felt like some people didn’t value the work we do here.

“Things do seem to be getting a bit better now. Tests are available for staff, just not residents, but it is a work in progress.”

It comes after the Government announced plans for a £600 million Infection Control Fund, which has been introduced to tackle the spread of coronavirus in care homes.

And with the price of PPE rising dramatically due to an increase in demand and extra safety measures starting to take their toll financially, this is something Sue says she may have to apply for.

She said: “The new Government money could be a real lifeline - with rising costs, more empty beds and the need for more PPE, we need all the financial help we can get.”

The Government has also said that all local authorities must conduct a daily review of care homes in their area to ensure they have the support they need with staffing, help with accessing PPE and other areas of operation.

Sue says her company has been one of the lucky ones, with no recorded cases of coronavirus in any of her care homes - but data shows that 51 Covid-19 related deaths had occurred across other Harrogate care homes by May 16.

She said: “We are very fortunate to remain free of the virus and for that we are so grateful.

“But that doesn’t mean we don’t have other challenges to face and issus to tackle.

“We have still had the great sadness of dealing with losing residents, even though it was not related to the virus, which is even tougher than usual with all that is going on.”

But amongst all the difficulties care homes are facing at the moment, Sue says one huge positive has come out of it - the incredible support her team has received from the community.

Calls for help have been answered immediately on social media, with people donating items and offering messages of support to the wonderful staff.

She added: “It has been such a difficult time for everyone and I could not be prouder of my staff - I am so blessed to work with such a wonderful, hard working team.

“But seeing the support from the community and how willing they have been to help us has been amazing.

“It has really given everyone a boost and reminded us why what we do is so special.

“With the Clap for Carers on Thursday nights and more stories coming out about care home struggles, I just hope that people recognise how incredible our care workers are and how hard they work.

“We need the Government to keep social work high on its agenda from now on and keep providing support.”

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