The tragic death toll from Covid-19 in Suffolk and northern Essex care homes has been revealed, with the community bearing the brunt.
Figures published by the Quality of Care Commission (CQC) on Wednesday separate fatalities from individual facilities for the first time, with deaths occurring between April 2020 and the end of March 2021.
The picturesque town of Hadleigh was among the worst-hit neighborhoods in the country for coronavirus deaths during the second wave.
It has now been revealed that 57 of the 63 Covid-related deaths recorded in the city as of March 31 were reported by four care homes – 20 at Waterfield House, 18 at Hadleigh Nursing Home, 12 at Magdalen House and seven at Canterbury House.
Overall, CQC data suggest that 604 coyote deaths were recorded in Suffolks care homes, with 1,342 fatalities reported at Essex facilities.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the newspaper’s investigative team discovered how Suffolk had recorded a disproportionate number of home deaths from Covid compared to neighboring counties.
Social care chiefs place this in the highest number of nursing beds.
The Grays Close Water House, Hadleigh, had the highest number of Covid deaths in Suffolk with 20 recorded deaths, according to CQCs figures.
Silversprings, a large nursing home in Thorrington near Colchester, reported 29 deaths at CQC – the highest in Essex.
The bosses at Runwood Homes, who runs Waterfield House rated ‘good’ by the CQC, said their story is not “unique”, with services like those “losing the people they cared for, everyone was very loving and valued members of our communities “.
“I would like to assure our residents and their families that we followed all the instructions as soon as they became available and had extremely strict infection control measures,” they added.
Meanwhile, Care UK, which runs Silversprings, said the criteria for identifying a Covid-19 death before testing became widely available will vary among care home operators, adding “it is possible that we are not comparing how to similar “.
They thanked the teams for their “tireless work”, adding that they too followed strict infection control measures.
CQC bosses said they were publishing figures on death notifications it received from individual homes in an effort to be transparent, following previous requests to share data.
He warned that the mere number of death notices should not be treated as a reliable indicator of quality or safety in individual homes.
Factors that may affect the number of deaths include local community transmission rates, care home size and age of residents, and health and care needs, he said.
Cruel and unprecedented enemy
Prema Fairburn-Dorai, president of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Insurers, described the pandemic as a cruel and unprecedented enemy and said she was aware that this data would bring the feelings of loss back to the forefront again.
She added: We urge the public to remember the anxiety and stress experienced by staff and any victims suffered within staff teams.
Ms. Fairburn-Dorai also criticized the inadequate early supplies of PPE and claimed that homes were forced to admit unproven patients.
An investigation by this newspaper revealed that hundreds were discharged from untested hospitals in the spring of 2020.
At the same time then-Secretary of Health Matt Hancock claimed the government had placed a protective ring across care homes.
In Hadleigh, Ms Fairburn-Dorai said the community was extremely unfortunate, but added: the vine is hard to determine why they had so many deaths. In the early stages, there was no evidence, anyone who died could have just been registered as a Covid-19 death.
Residents were also taking Covid to the hospital and dying, but in CQCs figures, that number goes back to the care home.
Frank Minns, the mayor of Hadleigh, said the CQC figures are “bitter and shocking”, but are confirmation of what the city already knew, rather than a further shock.
“I worry that we may allow simple numbers to hide the humanity of all the lost people,” he said.
“They were individuals who had lived rich and fulfilling lives, had children and grandchildren, but ultimately needed more support than their families could provide.
“I’ve talked to some of the people affected, both the relationships of those who have been lost and those who have seen them in their last days, and it must have been a really terrible time.
He added: “They are all eager to remember these many people not for the way they died, but for the life they lived, and we should not let these statistics hide it.”
A memorial garden was recently unveiled on the premises of the Hadleigh Nursing Home to honor those who died with Covid.
“The Covid pandemic has taken a terrible toll on Hadleigh, especially on its elderly population living in care homes,” said operations director Debbie McGovern.
But the team here has emerged from the darkest days stronger and more united. And I’m sure the same goes for the city as a whole.
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