Tragic toll of Covid-19 on Wigan care homes revealed by data

Almost 300 notifications of deaths mentioning the coronavirus were sent by providers in the borough in 2020-21.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 1:04 pm
Updated Friday, 30th July 2021, 1:06 pm

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said 291 notifications of deaths in which the involvement of the novel coronavirus was either confirmed or suspected were sent from care homes in Wigan or Leigh between April 10 last year and March 31 this year.

These include deaths that occurred elsewhere, such as in hospital.

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Almost 300 death notifications mentioning Covid-19 were sent by care providers

In total there were 165 death notifications sent by providers in the borough in quarter one, followed by just four in quarter two.

The borough then experienced another period of increased transmission and mortality with 82 notifications being sent by providers in quarter three.

In the final quarter of 2020-21 there were 40 notifications sent in the borough.

The CQC says the impact of the pandemic on people who draw on and work in adult social care services has been devastating.

Staff in a Lowton care home. Photo by PA

Despite the best efforts of staff, Covid-19 has contributed to a significant increase in the number of deaths in nursing and residential care settings.

The CQC it is very important to note death notifications do not in themselves indicate poor-quality care.

A number of other factors, including rates of local community transmission, the size of the care home and the age, health and care needs of the people living there all need to be taken into account, the watchdog said.

The scale of local Covid-19 outbreaks could be particularly relevant in Wigan which, along with Greater Manchester as a whole, has battled numerous major waves of the coronavirus and all too often in the past year has had higher-than-average case rates.

It is also clear from the data that some individual care homes in the borough have had a truly appalling experience of Covid-19, with death tolls that must have had a huge impact on residents and staff alike.

Publishing the data, the CQC and borough health bosses both spoke of the importance of remembering the human life and the grief that lies behind every single one of the numbers.

Wigan health authorities praised the work of staff throughout the past year and a half to keep some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents as safe from the pandemic as possible.

A Healthier Wigan Partnership spokesperson said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the biggest challenges of our lifetimes.

“This data highlights the human impact, and it is vital to recognise that behind each number is a person, and a family and a team of individuals who loved and cared for them.

“Throughout the pandemic, our care home staff have worked incredibly hard to provide care and comfort to some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents at a very difficult time.

“From the outset we took a proactive approach to the response, sourcing our own PPE when there was a national shortage, deploying council staff to support frontline roles, providing training on infection control to all care homes and even providing iPads to keep families and GPs connected to their loved ones and patients.

“In addition, we set up one of the biggest designated care settings in the region to support discharge out of hospital for those with Covid-19 to avoid transmittance in care homes.

“And our vaccination programme prioritised care home residents and workforce.

“The Heathier Wigan Partnership would like to thank our local care homes for their important and valued contribution during the last 16 months.”

Some of the most harrowing figures are those which show individual care homes battling the virus in the face of considerable tragedy.

Bedford Care Home wrote 36 death notifications for the CQC in quarter one of 2020-21.

In the same quarter both Ashton View Nursing Home and High Peak Lodge Residential and Nursing Home sent 13 notifications.

In the third quarter Appleby Court, run by Cuerden Developments, sent 14 notifications.

The CQC said the inclusion of a death in the published figures as being involved with Covid-19 is based on the statement of the care home provider, which may or may not correspond to a medical diagnosis or test result or be reflected in the death certification.

The data covers deaths of residents involving Covid-19 under the care of the provider as notified to CQC, regardless of where the virus was contracted or where the death occurred, including in the care home, in hospital, in an ambulance or in any other setting.

Only one Wigan home in the list was a designated setting, which means it was a place admitting people discharged from hospital with a Covid-positive test back into a care setting, and this did not take effect until February 2021.

Small homes with fewer than 10 beds have been removed from the local datasets as it was feared that it would become possible to identify individual residents.

The watchdog said now was the right time to release these sensitive figures as part of its duty to provide clear information to the public.

Kate Terroni, the CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said: “We have a duty to be transparent and to act in the public interest, and we made a commitment to publish data at this level, but only once we felt able to do so as accurately and safely as possible given the complexity and sensitivity of the data.

“In doing so, we aim to provide a more comprehensive picture of the impact of Covid-19 on care homes, the people living in them and their families.

“It is important to be clear, however, that although this data relates to deaths of people who were care home residents, many of them did not die in or contract Covid-19 in a care home.

“As we publish this data, we ask for consideration and respect to be shown to people living in care homes, to families who have been affected, and to the staff who have done everything they could, in incredibly difficult circumstances, to look after those in their care.”

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