Care staff have been battling to protect some of the most vulnerable people for eight months now and they are tired, with some low morale, according to the borough council’s director of adult services.
“Morale across social care and health is probably quite low, and we are having to do a lot to support people because people are very fearful about the second wave and what it might bring,” said Kate Walker the council’s director of adult services.
She told Tuesday’s meeting of the adult services overview and scrutiny committee that: “They’ve had some experiences that would have been difficult during that first wave.”
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She added: “We have a lot of heroes but they don’t really shout, they get on with it.
“We are hearing that people are tired and we are doing all we can to make sure that they have had a break so that they are prepared.”
But the committee was told that care homes are in a different position now than they were at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Councillors were told that the results of tests are coming back in about two days, compared to seven days a few weeks ago.
And they heard there is also no shortage of free personal protective equipment (PPE), which protects vulnerable people, many of them elderly, from infection from staff who may be carrying the virus but are not showing symptoms.
Chris Ryan, of the Bedfordshire Care Group and managing director of St Andrew’s Care Homes, told the committee of some of the financial and staffing pressures faced by local care homes.
The costs of PPE have increased from 10p to £1 for one mask, with some care homes suffering from a lack of income, and in some cases an inability to get insured.
Care homes have to close if they cannot get insured, and he knew of one in the borough at risk.
The committee also debated the subject of family visits to care homes, with new guidance due from the Government today (Wednesday).
“This week we understand that there has been a lot of pressure to come up with a way of allowing visits to happen through this period,” said Mr Ryan.
“It can have a significant impact on them and their wellbeing and their willingness to eat.
“All those sort of things can be impacted if we don’t allow some sort of visit and there has been a lot of national pressure to do something.”
The committee resolved to note the report receive more covid-19 updates at its future meetings.
From the chair, Cllr Roger Rigby (Cons, Bromham & Biddenham) said: “We wish your sector well and hope it manages the issues over the next few months. Covid is not behind us yet.”