17 Somerset Care Homes have virus

In a briefing update yesterday Somerset County Council (SCC) acknowledged that 17 care homes in the county currently have cases of COVID 19.

SCC are apparently keeping in daily contact with all care homes. However they also note that at the present time it is often difficult to establish the exact cause of death in those homes.

Up until now government guidance on PPE for care homes has been that only those dealing with Covid-19 cases are required to wear face masks, equating to some 26,000 masks required per week needed for Somerset.

Guidance is now changing, so that care home staff are being advised to wear face masks at all times. That would mean a requirement of up to 150,000 a week required now, a huge jump.

As SCC are still unable to predict the timing of the next delivery of PPE, they have ordered Ā£700k of Personal Protective Equipment independently. The provision PPE deliveries is being prioritised to care homes with suspected/confirmed Covid-19 cases and staff have volunteered to do this.

Covid-19 testing in care home remains on a case by case basis. In other words it is not routine.

Meanwhile at a national level there remains concern that deaths in care homes are going unreported.

The one thing the SCC briefing was not able to do was determine the number of deaths occurring in Somerset care homes from the virus. The CQC suggested that effective this week care providers would be able to report which deaths were of people with suspected or confirmed Covid-19. But as testing of patients is far from universal it is not clear how accurate a picture this will give. Nor has the CQC suggested how often this data will be published.

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