A FORMER care home manager in Ludlow believes that Covid-19 outbreaks are set to continue for a long time.

Colin Sheward was manager of Helena Lane Care Home for 11 years and before that deputy manager of Stonehouse Care Home.

He is by background a psychiatric nurse and has been seeing what he can do to support care homes in the town and surrounding area.

“It is important to understand that care homes are unusual settings,” said Mr Sheward.

He said that he is not so surprised by the high death toll in the sector.

Mr Sheward said that a number of factors come into play, in particular an environment with older people who are vulnerable as well as difficult to isolate.

“If one person brings a virus into a care home then there is a danger that it will spread like wildfire,” he said.

“Some care homes are small and isolating people can be difficult as well as the fact that it is very hard or near impossible to get people who may be suffering from conditions like dementia to socially distance.

“I think that there are bound to be periodic outbreaks of the virus in care homes.”

He feels that because the care home sector is fragmented it is more difficult to co-ordinate and means that statistics like the number of deaths are less accurate and slower to gather.

Mr Sheward also believes that a more collaborative approach would also help.

He said that instead of having individual care homes trying to buy items such as personal protective equipment it would be better if there could be co-operation and one person do the buying for a number of homes.

This would reduce the amount of time spent doing it and could also lead to economies of scale in purchasing.

Mr Sheward said that it is not fair to make direct comparisons between care homes and hospitals.

“They are different, and it is important to realise this,” he said.

“In a hospital, patients will be more used to staff being in masks, but a care home is different.

He said that a care home is a home for the resident and that the relationship between carers and the people they look after is different to that between a nurse or doctor and a patient.

“It is more of a family environment and may not be appropriate for a carer to be dressed in full protective gear,” he added.

Mr Sheward added that most care homes are well run with staff who are heroes.