Families with loved ones in care homes WILL be allowed to visit dying loved ones in major U-turn


Care homes have been ordered to allow grieving relatives a last chance to say goodbye to loved-ones before they die from coronavirus amid shocking reports of elderly victims dying alone.

Matt Hancock will reportedly outline new measures to allow compassionate visits to nursing homes and outlaw the blanket use of ‘do not resuscitate’ (DNR) plans, which staff claim they’ve been asked to routinely sign during the crisis.

Families have complained of having to say their last goodbyes over Skype or from outside buildings as facilities do not want them to enter because of the infection risk. 

The loved ones of a deceased resident at Wren Hall nursing home in Nottinghamshire were forced to wave goodbye from the car park while the body was removed by undertakers on Easter Monday. 

His intervention came amid fears that the death toll in care homes in England and Wales is 20 times higher than the reported 217.  Industry figures say the true count is much closer 4,000 since the outbreak started.  

According to the Evening Standard, Mr Hancock will use the daily press conference this evening to say that ‘everyone has a right to say goodbye’ and that ‘wanting to be with someone you love at the end of their life is one most human instincts there is’.

Matt Hancock will reportedly outline new measures to allow compassionate visits to care homes and outlaw the blanket use of ‘do not resuscitate’ (DNR) plans

Former professional footballer Cyril Lawrence, 99, passed away after catching the coronavirus at a care home in Bolton

Former professional footballer Cyril Lawrence, 99, passed away after catching the coronavirus at a care home in Bolton 

Carole Foster, 77, passed away last Wednesday at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, just one day after being admitted

Carole Foster, 77, passed away last Wednesday at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, just one day after being admitted

‘Coronavirus has made this much more difficult, and I’ve heard heart-breaking stories of people dying without a loved one nearby.

 ‘We are sensitively making sure we can limit the risk of infection while giving people’s closest loved ones the chance to properly say goodbye.’

The newspaper reported that guidance has been issued saying: ‘It is unacceptable for advance care plans, including Do Not Attempt Resuscitation orders, to applied in a blanket fashion to any group of people, and the CQC have been urgently contacting providers where this practice has been brought to their attention. 

‘Everyone at risk of losing mental capacity or nearing the end of their life should be offered the opportunity and supported, if they wish, to develop advance care planning that make their wishes clear, and to make arrangements, such as lasting power of attorney for health and social care decisions, to put their affairs in order.’ 

Campaigners and MPs warned yesterday of an ‘unfolding horror’ that could end up with tens of thousands of forgotten victims.  

HIDDEN EPIDEMIC OF CORONAVIRUS IN CARE HOMES MAY HAVE COST 4,000 LIVES, EXPERTS WARN 

A ‘hidden epidemic’ of coronavirus in care homes may have cost 4,000 lives, experts warned last night. 

They believe deaths are being hugely under-reported because of a lack of testing.

GPs are also sometimes reluctant to write COVID-19 on death certificates and figures from care homes are not included in the official daily toll. 

The latest report from the Office for National Statistics says the virus killed 217 care home residents in England and Wales up to April 3. 

But industry figures say the true count is much higher – potentially 4,000 since the outbreak started. 

Campaigners and MPs warned yesterday of an ‘unfolding horror’ that could end up with tens of thousands of forgotten victims. 

Ministers face urgent calls to get a grip and get virus tests for all staff and residents with symptoms, more protection gear and a Cabinet minister to deal with the crisis.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night pledged action on testing and is also expected to outline a plan to address the crisis in a social care strategy. 

Care home operators complain they are being overlooked, with desperate short – ages of testing and staff safety equipment making it extremely hard to stop the disease ravaging their sites. 

Ministers face urgent calls to get a grip and get virus tests for all staff and residents with symptoms, more protection gear and a Cabinet minister to deal with the crisis. 

This morning it was revealed eight people have died with suspected coronavirus at Green Heys Care Home in Waterloo, Merseyside. 

Mark Adams, chief executive officer for Community Integrated Care, which runs the home said: ‘Whilst this is a devastating number, it may have been higher had it not been for the dedicated and selfless response of our team, who have exemplified the commitment, bravery and skill, that exists within the social care workforce.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night pledged action on testing and is also expected to outline a plan to address the crisis in a social care strategy.

All care home residents and staff with symptoms of Covid-19 are to be tested as the Government faces a backlash over its handling of the growing crisis. 

Social Care Minister Helen Whately told BBC Breakfast this morning: ‘We have been doing everything that we can to protect those really vulnerable people living in care homes or receiving care at home.

‘From the moment it looked like coronavirus was coming our way… we have been working really hard to do whatever we can to protect those receiving care from this truly awful, horrible illness.’

She added it had been ‘harder to get heard’ on social care issues than for the NHS and said the Government had ‘taken huge steps to get PPE out to the care sector’.

Care home operators complain they are being overlooked, with desperate short – ages of testing and staff safety equipment making it extremely hard to stop the dis – ease ravaging their sites. 

Debbie Cholwill said her mother, who had dementia and was living in a care home, passed away on April 10 after testing positive for coronavirus

Debbie Cholwill said her mother, who had dementia and was living in a care home, passed away on April 10 after testing positive for coronavirus

Jeremy Richardson, chief executive of Four Seasons, which has 191 care homes across the UK, told the Guardian that the official figures ‘materially understated’ the crisis, adding: ‘From colleagues in the sector and in Four Seasons’ experience, it is closer to 60 per cent (infection rate).’ 

It comes after furious families today accused the Government of ‘sacrificing’ Britain’s elderly in the fight against coronavirus by discharging COVID-19 patients into care homes and signing the ‘death warrant’ of the most vulnerable in society. 

Chris Schmid told MailOnline his great aunt Isabel Francis, 94, (pictured) passed away in Fieldway care home in Mitcham, South London on Friday, April 10

Chris Schmid told MailOnline his great aunt Isabel Francis, 94, passed away in Fieldway care home in Mitcham, South London on Friday, April 10

TRUE DEATH TOLL COULD BE 12,000

There are no official figures on the number of care home deaths so far, but some estimates put the toll as high as 12,000. 

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says evidence from France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Ire – land suggests between 4 2 per cent and 57 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths happen in care homes. 

There have been 1 2,000 deaths officially in the UK so far, according to Government figures which only cover hospitals. 

It could mean there have been another 1 2,000 in care homes. The Office for National Statistics puts the number at only 217 but its figures are 11 days out of date at a time when the death rate has risen dramatically. 

Care England, which represents independent care providers, and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey both estimate the toll to be at least 1,000. 

The Mail’s own audit has found 951 deaths, but many care homes have declined to give figures. The Alzheimer’s Society estimates there have been 2,500 deaths

NHS hospitals have been ordered to drastically free up beds, meaning thousands of patients have been released, with scores of elderly Britons meeting the criteria sent to care homes dotted across the UK.

In a revolt against the ‘dangerous’ drive, some care homes have already refused to accept patients over coronavirus fears – not everyone is swabbed for the killer virus before they are discharged from hospital.  

But one home in Essex was allegedly forced to accept an elderly COVID-19 patient ‘against their wishes’ before they were re-admitted to hospital the next day. The daughter of a 96-year-old resident accused Number 10 of ‘recklessly exposing’ others to the infection. 

In Herefordshire, a dementia-stricken 78-year-old was discharged from hospital to a care home, without her family being told. She also had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) notice along with the orders not to send back to hospital if she caught coronavirus.

Demanding action from Downing Street, her daughter said: ‘My mother has worked all her life and paid into the NHS they do not have the right to sign her death warrant because she’s old and has dementia.’

Despite hospitals being told to free up space, it was revealed last night that London’s Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre sat almost empty with just 19 coronavirus patients treated over the Easter weekend. 

It comes after care industry bosses yesterday suggested that two thirds of all homes across Britain have recorded coronavirus cases. Around 500,000 people are in care homes in the UK.

Grim statistics released yesterday also showed the number of coronavirus deaths in care homes rose ten-fold by the start of April, up from just 20 for the week ending March 27.

But the true scale of the coronavirus catastrophe in Britain’s care homes is a mystery because the figures released by the Office for National Statistics are almost two weeks out-of-date.  

The Birchwood Residential Care Home, in Essex, was allegedly forced to accept an elderly COVID-19 patient 'against their wishes' before they were re-admitted to hospital the next day

The Birchwood Residential Care Home, in Essex, was allegedly forced to accept an elderly COVID-19 patient ‘against their wishes’ before they were re-admitted to hospital the next day

Workers help prepare the ExCel London centre, which has been made into the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital

Workers help prepare the ExCel London centre, which has been made into the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital

Mark Gordon fears his mother Susan (above), a 76-year-old terminally-ill cancer patient, is too weak to fight off coronavirus after contracting the infection while at a Tayside care home. He claims staff did not use PPE when dealing with patients

Mark Gordon fears his mother Susan (above), a 76-year-old terminally-ill cancer patient, is too weak to fight off coronavirus after contracting the infection while at a Tayside care home. He claims staff did not use PPE when dealing with patients

George Hillhouse's 74-year-old mother, Helen Smith, died at Almond Court care home in Drumchapel, Glasgow, on Saturday

George Hillhouse’s 74-year-old mother, Helen Smith, died at Almond Court care home in Drumchapel, Glasgow, on Saturday

LONDON’S NEW MAKE-SHIFT HOSPITAL HAD JUST 19 PATIENTS OVER EASTER 

A hospital bed and respirator at ExCel London

A hospital bed and respirator at ExCel London

London’s Nightingale Hospital sat almost empty with just 19 coronavirus patients treated over the Easter weekend.

The 4,000 capacity flagship hospital was opened by Prince Charles via video link almost two weeks ago and is designed to handle a large surge in coronavirus cases.

However data circulated to health chiefs and seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) shows some hospitals have been able to double their ICU capacity, to 1,555 beds, despite rising levels of infections.

It also showed only 19 patients were receiving treatment over the Easter weekend at the facility located in the Docklands.

Number 10 is under mounting pressure to start recording all coronavirus deaths, wherever they happen, amid the accusations the true toll is being swept under the carpet.

The UK’s care home regulator, the Care Quality Commission, announced it would step in to collect daily numbers of coronavirus deaths. 

Helen Buniak revealed her 96-year-old mother’s home was ‘ordered’ to admit a coronavirus patient from hospital ‘against their wishes’ on April 8.

She alleged that the Birchwood Residential Care Home, in Ilford, was told it was ‘Government policy’.

The discharged patient only stayed in the facility for one day before they were re-admitted to hospital, Ms Buniak claimed. 

She told MailOnline: ‘How shocking and completely reckless to allow the virus to enter into a care home that was clear of the virus.

‘However much the staff did their best to isolate the patient, there is still a serious risk that the virus could spread and cause multiple deaths.’ 

Ms Buniak said it seemed like the lives of older people in care homes are ‘invisible’ and argued: ‘The Government is willing to sacrifice them.’ 

‘The Government’s so called policy to shield those most vulnerable clearly does not apply to the elderly in care homes.’

The Birchwood care home, which looks after around 40 elderly patients, is one of dozens to have limited routine visits from family members.  

Another MailOnline reader revealed her elderly dementia-stricken mother was discharged to a care home, without checking with her. 

Her mother, of Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, was stuck in hospital because health officials had yet to find a care package for her.

She told MailOnline: ‘Due to the COVID-19 outbreak most care homes in Hereford with places refused to take her so she was there a while. 

‘The hospital were getting really annoyed because they wanted her out as soon as possible and the bed freed up.

‘On Sunday (April 12) they discharged her to a care home in Worcestershire without consulting me or checking the home could meet her complex needs.’

The woman – who wanted to remain anonymous – added: ‘She arrived with a DNR, which said do not transfer back to hospital if she contracts COVID-19. 

‘My mother has worked all her life and paid into the NHS they do not have the right to sign her death warrant because she’s old and has dementia.

‘If my mum gets sick with COVID-19 she will be left to die and the hospital will refuse to admit her because the DNR will be in her notes.’ 

Stanley Park care home in Stanley after thirteen residents died after displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms

Stanley Park care home in Stanley after thirteen residents died after displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms

CARE HOMES REFUSING TO ACCEPT DISCHARGED PATIENTS OVER FEARS THEY’LL BRING VIRUS WITH THEM 

NHS trusts are trying to discharge patients who do not need round-the-clock care to free up capacity for the expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

But care home managers are refusing to accept elderly people over fears they might bring the virus into the homes.

Under guidance issued by the government last week, testing is not mandatory for discharged patients.

David Steedman, the manager of Arlington House care home in Sussex, admitted he had five empty rooms but refused to take in people discharged from hospitals.

He said it would be ‘madness’ to expose residents and staff to the risk of infection, the Guardian reports.

Last week the Government promised every social care provider in the country would receive deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks.

Mr Steedman told the paper: ‘The personal protective equipment issued for staff is laughable.

‘These masks, as well as having an expiry date of 2016, are the sort of flimsy, paper thing that dentists wear with gaps all round the edges.

‘The instructions say they should be used if a resident has symptoms of the virus or actually has it. But these masks are completely useless in those situations.’

NHS trusts are trying to discharge patients who do not need round-the-clock care to free up capacity for the expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

But care home managers are refusing to accept elderly people over fears they might bring the virus into the homes.

Under guidance issued by the government last week, testing is not mandatory for discharged patients.

David Steedman, the manager of Arlington House care home in Sussex, admitted he had five empty rooms but refused to take in people discharged from hospitals.

He said it would be ‘madness’ to expose residents and staff to the risk of infection, the Guardian reports.

Last week the Government promised every social care provider in the country would receive deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks.

Mr Steedman told the paper: ‘The personal protective equipment issued for staff is laughable.

‘These masks, as well as having an expiry date of 2016, are the sort of flimsy, paper thing that dentists wear with gaps all round the edges.

‘The instructions say they should be used if a resident has symptoms of the virus or actually has it. But these masks are completely useless in those situations.’

It comes after it was warned last night that a ‘hidden epidemic’ of coronavirus in care homes may have cost 4,000 lives. 

Experts believe deaths are being hugely under-reported because of a lack of testing.

GPs are also sometimes reluctant to write COVID-19 on death certificates and figures from care homes are not included in the official daily toll. 

Piers (left) slammed the minister (right) for laughing during the interview as he asked about care home deaths

Piers (left) slammed the minister (right) for laughing during the interview as he asked about care home deaths 

She said her laughter was a reaction to him showing her the front page of the newspaper, when she was unable to see him due to not having a screen visible showing the GMB host.

She said her laughter was a reaction to him showing her the front page of the newspaper, when she was unable to see him due to not having a screen visible showing the GMB host.

Avice Howarth's mother, who was living in a care home. passed away on April 10

Avice Howarth’s mother, who was living in a care home. passed away on April 10

Jane Rudge's mother is a resident at Hopwood Court care home in Alvechurch, Worcestershire. The 94-year-old is now ill, with suspected Covid-19

Jane Rudge’s mother is a resident at Hopwood Court care home in Alvechurch, Worcestershire. The 94-year-old is now ill, with suspected COVID-19

The latest report from the Office for National Statistics says the virus killed 217 care home residents in England and Wales up to April 3. 

But industry figures say the true count is much higher – potentially 4,000 since the outbreak started. 

One leading statistician the numbers were being underestimated because GPs were unwilling to record ‘covid’ on death certificates if they hadn’t seen the patient. 

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, who is based at the Faculty of Mathematics at Cambridge University, highlighted emergency laws which came into force last month which enable doctors to certify deaths without being in physical attendance.

Under the Government’s Coronavirus Act, which was passed on March 25, doctors are allowed to carry out the process of death registration over-the-phone.

The new powers were intended to reduce the likelihood of GPs contracting the infection but Sir David said the upshot was that they were less inclined to record the virus as the cause of death.

NHS ORDERED TO FREE UP 30,000 BEDS BY CANCELLING OPERATIONS AND REMOVING THOUSANDS OF INPATIENTS

The NHS has been ordered to free up 30,000 beds to make room for an expected surge in coronavirus cases.

A letter sent to trusts by NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has called on hospitals to postpone all non-urgent planned operations from today until at least three months. 

This will free up between 12-15,000 beds, according to the letter seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

It will mean thousands of patients will miss out on knee and hip replacements. 

Organ donors will not be able to donate until at least summer.

Trusts are also being asked to discharge all inpatients who are ‘medically fit to leave’, which could free up another 15,000 beds.

Bulk-buying beds from independent providers and using community hospital beds could see up to 10,000 additional beds for COVID-19 patients, the letter claims.   

NHS bosses also told trusts to free up their private patient unit beds to create extra capacity.

The move could see hospitals lose millions of pounds of income. 

More than 1,000 beds within the NHS are available for private patients, according to think tank the Centre for Health and the Public Interest, with income of around £600m a year. 

Other organisations including the Alzheimer’s Society and Care England, the main representative body for social care organisations, said the death toll was being hugely underplayed by the lack of tests.

Currently only hospital patients and some frontline staff are being tested for the virus, although the Government hopes to roll this out to other key workers and the wider public if the capacity increases

Sir David said: ‘Less than 10 per cent of deaths are being coded for covid deaths outside hospitals. That’s at home, or in care homes.

‘Under a new regulation, doctors do not actually have to see a patient to register their deaths now. They can do it over the phone with a description of their symptoms.

‘I could understand many doctors or GPs not being willing to put covid on a death certificate when they’ve neither had a test, nor seen the patient.

‘Unfortunately, we don’t seem to know yet how many of these extra deaths are being registered without even seeing the patient. That seems to me very important to have that piece of information.’

Speaking to the BBC’s World At One, he added: ‘There are suggestions going around that doctors are kind of being encouraged not to put covid on the death certificate.’

He did not explain who was pressuring doctors not to report the virus on the death certificates or why.

But medical professionals are urged not to record an illness as cause of death unless they are very sure.  

Nick Stripe, head of the health analysis and life events division at the Office for National Statistics said: ‘It could be that the doctor certifying the death, to the best of their knowledge, is not sure enough that there is possibly covid involved to put it on the death certificate.

Debbie Cholwill said her mother (pictured) passed away on April 10. On Facebook, she wrote: 'It is with deep sadness that I am putting this message on sadly after six years of my mum being in a care home with dementia she sadly passed away last night, after testing positive for Coronavirus'

Debbie Cholwill said her mother (pictured) passed away on April 10. On Facebook, she wrote: ‘It is with deep sadness that I am putting this message on sadly after six years of my mum being in a care home with dementia she sadly passed away last night, after testing positive for Coronavirus’

Elaine Shirt had to put her 'lovely' father Cyril Lawrence, 99, into respite in a care home after her mother was taken ill recently and went into hospital. Pictured, Mr Lawrence (front row, third from left) with Stan Mortensen (front row, sixth from left) at Blackpool in 1939

Elaine Shirt had to put her ‘lovely’ father Cyril Lawrence, 99, into respite in a care home after her mother was taken ill recently and went into hospital. Pictured, Mr Lawrence (front row, third from left) with Stan Mortensen (front row, sixth from left) at Blackpool in 1939

Something funny, Care Minister? Moment grinning MP Helen Whately LAUGHS as Piers Morgan confronts her over 4,000 coronavirus care home deaths

Care minister Helen Whately was blasted today for sniggering in a car crash TV interview as it was revealed a ‘hidden epidemic’ of coronavirus in nursing and old-people’s homes may have cost 4,000 lives.

She was taken to task by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain as he grilled her over an exclusive report in the Daily Mail that deaths in care facilities are being hugely under-reported because of a lack of testing.  

Mrs Whately, 43, the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, was sent out to face the media this morning as anger and questions increased over the vulnerability of care home residents amid a lack of testing and personal protective equipment  (PPE) for staff. 

Appearing on GMB she insisted that the Government has been working hard to tackle the crisis, but Piers insisted she answer questions about deaths in care homes, telling her he expected her to be working hard.

He asked: ‘Is it true that 4,000 people have died in care home? Yes or no?’ 

‘It’s dependent of the doctor, understanding the patient’s background and recent symptoms in terms of what in their medical opinion they put on the death certificate.’

Research by the London School of Economics over the weekend suggested that about half of coronavirus deaths in Europe were occurring in care homes.

In Belgium the figure was estimated to be 42 per cent, rising to 53 per cent in Italy and 57 per cent in Spain.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the official figures were ‘airbrushing older people out like they didn’t matter’.

She added: ‘Any suggestion that these spiralling care home deaths are somehow inevitable would be utterly wrong, sounding suspiciously like an excuse for failings of national policy and practice.’

Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary of Unison which represents many care home staff said: ‘These figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

‘A comprehensive programme of testing of staff and the people they look after should start at once.

‘Without daily updates on the number of people dying in residential care and their own homes, it’s impossible to track the spread of the virus. Hospital deaths are only part of the picture.’

Campaigners and MPs warned yesterday of an ‘unfolding horror’ that could end up with tens of thousands of forgotten victims. 

Ministers face urgent calls to get a grip and get virus tests for all staff and residents with symptoms, more protection gear and a Cabinet minister to deal with the crisis.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night pledged action on testing and is also expected to outline a plan to address the crisis in a social care strategy. 

Care home operators complain they are being overlooked, with desperate short – ages of testing and staff safety equipment making it extremely hard to stop the disease ravaging their sites. 

Care minister Helen Whately was blasted today for sniggering in a car crash TV interview about the ‘hidden epidemic’ of coronavirus in care homes. 

She was taken to task by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain as he grilled her over a Mail exclusive that deaths in care facilities are being hugely under-reported. 

Mrs Whately, 43, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent,  insisted that the Government has been working hard to tackle the crisis.

But Piers insisted she answer questions about deaths in care homes, telling her he expected her to be working hard.

He asked: ‘Is it true that 4,000 people have died in care home? Yes or no?’ 

The Social Care Minister then thanked him for acknowledging what the government is doing and said the work was ‘really important’.

Piers interrupted to say tell her that it was more important that 4,000 people have died, only for the Minister to start laughing. 

The host said: ‘Why are you laughing? What do you find funny about this?’

She said: ‘I don’t think it’s funny in the slightest.’

He responded: ‘Well why do you keep laughing then? I’m not laughing at all,’ she said.

Piers replied: ‘I literally just asked you is it true that 4,000 elderly people have died in hosp and all you can do is laugh what’s the matter with you?’

As she continued to insist she wasn’t laughing and asked Piers not to suggest she had been, he said: ‘We literally just saw you.’ 

But she said her laughter was a reaction to him showing her the front page of the newspaper, when she was unable to see him due to not having a screen visible showing the GMB host. 

Meanwhile, the NHS has been ordered to free up 30,000 beds to make room for an expected surge in coronavirus cases.

A letter sent to trusts by NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has called on hospitals to postpone all non-urgent planned operations from today until at least three months.

This will free up between 12-15,000 beds, according to the letter seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

Trusts are also being asked to discharge all inpatients, many of whom are elderly, if they are ‘medically fit to leave’.

This could free up another 15,000 beds, NHSE says.

Bulk-buying beds from independent providers and using community hospital beds could see up to 10,000 additional beds for COVID-19 patients, the letter claims.

But despite the scramble to free up hospital beds, it was revealed last night that thousands lay unused at London’s Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre.

The 4,000-capacity flagship hospital sat almost empty with just 19 coronavirus patients treated over the Easter weekend.

Data circulated to health chiefs and seen by the HSJ shows some hospitals have been able to double their ICU capacity, to 1,555 beds, despite rising levels of infections.

It also showed only 19 patients were receiving treatment over the Easter weekend at the facility located in the Docklands. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk