At least one resident has coronavirus at a Brighton care home, prompting union bosses to spell out health and safety concerns on behalf of staff and residents there.
The GMB union said that there were three coronavirus cases at the Craven Vale Resource Centre but Brighton and Hove City Council said that just one case had been confirmed.
Councillor Clare Moonan, who chairs the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “It’s quite possible there may be other clients who may have some symptoms but nothing is confirmed at present.”
The union said that members were concerned about residents at the council-operated premises as well as for their own safety.
And it said there was a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the service which can look after up to 31 adults, mostly over 65 years old.
The council said that staff “have access to all necessary personal protective equipment” and added: “Levels of PPE across the care setting should be increased to protect all residents and staff throughout the pandemic but we are concerned that there aren’t the suppliers to do this.”
Craven Vale is one of a number of homes in Brighton and Hove where covid-19 is suspected or has been confirmed although a lack of testing has caused widespread concern.
At Oaklands, in Dyke Road Avenue, Hove, Giuseppe Casciello, 95, died on Monday (30 March). He was one of at least two residents with coronavirus at the privately run nursing home. Other residents and staff have the symptoms.
And at Lindridge Care Home, in Laburnum Avenue, Hove, at least four people are understood to have a coronavirus diagnosis, with others showing signs of the condition.
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the care home, refused to say whether anyone there had the virus.
The trust said: “We have appropriate stocks of protective personal equipment to help us manage this. We have also placed some necessary restrictions on visiting.”
Public Health England said today (Wednesday 1 April) thatthe number of confirmed cases in Brighton and Hove had gone up to 49. The figure for West Sussex is 160. In East Sussex it is 84, making 293 across the whole of Sussex. Nationally, 29,474 cases have been confirmed, up 4,324. And 2,352 people have died, up 563.
Speaking about the situation at Craven Vale, GMB branch secretary Mark Turner said: “Inadequate PPE still today remains a serious issue despite cast-iron assurances by council officers when the matter was raised.
“All we are asking is to ensure that everyone at the centre is afforded the chance of full protection against the spread of covid-19.
“Our members are wondering if it might be better to shut down the centre while the council carries out a deep clean and organises training on the use of the correct PPE – not only for the staff’s protection but for that of the vulnerable residents to whom they are trying to provide adequate and safe care.”
Craven Vale is home to older people who need respite care or “short-term intermediate care” after being discharged from hospital – or to keep them from having to go into hospital.
The GMB questioned whether it was safe to keep the Craven Vale resource centre open, saying that it had received “numerous messages from concerned workers”.
The union added: “Members are now seriously concerned not only for their own safety but also for that of the remaining residents after today’s news that a third case of covid-19 has been confirmed.
“Staff have informed GMB about the lack of suitable, satisfactory PPE and to draw attention to the fact that procedures like restricting movement of staff and residents in and out of the building are being ignored.”
Mr Turner said: “Clearly in this case the council are failing in their duty of care and responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act.”
Councillor Moonan said: “Our thanks go out to every member of staff working to protect all our residents.
“Our staff are hugely valued and are working incredibly hard in unprecedented conditions. We understand why they are very worried and concerned.
“We always want staff to raise any concerns with their managers so that where necessary immediate action can be taken.
“Throughout this crisis, advice and information has consistently been provided to all staff about best working practices and managers have communicated at length with their staff to reinforce that all concerns should be raised and discussed openly
“Staff at Craven Vale have access to all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) according to NHS guidance.
“We are working through the Sussex Resilience Forum and NHS to source ongoing supplies. If anyone has concerns, they should approach their manager as soon as possible.
“Social distancing measures are being implemented across all care homes and we are following national guidance on infection control.
“No issues have been raised with managers at Craven Vale but we will listen to any concerns raised by staff or the union representation carefully.
“We have no information at present about a second or third case of Covid-19 at Craven Vale.
“There is only one confirmed case we are aware of and that person is being isolated within the centre.
“It’s quite possible there may be other clients who may have some symptoms but nothing is confirmed at present.
“Briefing meetings with staff are taking place (on Thursday 2 April) and the management team welcome staff raising issues with us.
“We have offered a specific meeting with GMB and Unison on the situation at Craven Vale and are flexible in making sure these meetings can take place at a time convenient with everyone.
“However, we feel the level of testing available to the care home and home care settings is too low and we call on the government to address this immediately.
“Levels of PPE across the care setting should be increased to protect all residents and staff throughout the pandemic but we are concerned that there aren’t the suppliers to do this.
“We need to be able to support our care homes and home care services, who are supporting the most vulnerable in our community, failure to do this will only lead to increased admission to hospital.”