Four in ten people who died of covid in Brighton and Hove were care home residents, new figures show.
The Care and Quality Commission has just published figures showing how many deaths were notified by all care homes with more than ten residents in Brighton and Hove.
Between 10 April last year until 31 March this year, 172 deaths were notified. These figures include residents who died after being transferred to hospital – some of whom may have contracted the virus while on the wards.
The total number of deaths in the city where covid was mentioned on the death certificate in the same period was 427.
Sarabjit Kaur is manager of the 50-bed Birch Grove Nursing Home in Stanford Avenue, one of the worst-hit nursing homes in the city.
She said losing so many residents, most of whom died in the first wave last spring when there was very little testing and PPE, was heartbreaking.
She said: “When there’s a surge in a nursing home, it’s very difficult to contain. Even though everyone is following the guidelines, there’s still a very high chance of spreading it.
“At the beginning, we didn’t have enough resources with regards to testing and PPE.
“Things have changed enormously since then and we are able to test staff and residents, and if there’s an outbreak we can increase testing and put things in place.
“When we had a serious outbreak, we were asking for the residents to be tested, but they could only do very little numbers, and it was difficult to choose who got tested.
“At the beginning, everyone was so scared. It was heartbreaking for everybody because families couldn’t visit and residents couldn’t understand and were wondering why their son or daughter had stopped coming.”
Partridge House in Heath Hill Avenue, Brighton, which has 38 rooms, escaped the first wave relatively unscathed – but tragedy struck after Christmas, when 13 residents died.
Owner Avi Gidar said: “Our heartfelt condolences go to anyone who has lost a loved one during the pandemic.
“The death of anyone within our care home community leaves a hole and sense of loss for our residents and staff, and obviously an even greater loss for family and friends.
“We acknowledge the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) data on deaths of residents from our home who died with covid-19 is part of identifying a much broader national picture. It is important that they gather this data for transparency, and for statistical and research purposes and learning.
“The CQC has made it clear to us that the number of deaths is not a reflection on the quality of care within individual homes.
“We are committed to learning from our shared experiences so that we can continue to provide the best quality care we can to our residents and support to their families, as well as the local authority, public health teams, the CQC, NHS and other partners.”
Lindridge Care Home in Laburnum Avenue is run by the NHS, and has beds for 70 patients with complex needs.
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are acutely aware that every single number represents an individual life lost to covid-19 and we offer our deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic.
“Losing residents at Lindridge care home has been deeply upsetting for our staff whose priority has always been the welfare of those in our care. Our staff continue to work incredibly hard to care for our residents and families.
“Throughout the pandemic we have followed infection prevention and control measures in line with national guidance. We work closely with the Care Quality Commission, Public Health England and local commissioners to review these measures in order to ensure the safety of our patients and staff.”
The CQC report says: “The pandemic has affected the lives of everyone in the UK, and for some its impact has been intense, or even devastating. This impact is likely to have been felt particularly by those using, and working in, health and social care services.
“Tragically, covid has contributed to an increase in the number of deaths across the population, including people living in care homes, both in England and throughout the world.
In many cases, the loss of a loved one has been made even harder for the relatives and friends of people in care homes who were unable to be as near to them as they would have wished in their final days and weeks due to covid restrictions.
“Losses will also have been felt by the staff who have cared for and supported them, and who may have built up a relationship over years.”
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