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An update on COVID-19 to residents and families

The care and safety of care home residents, relatives and staff must come first at all times.

Families and residents may have seen recent media coverage regarding the decision to move residents.

I wanted to take this opportunity to address any misconceptions which may have been reported.

We have a long-standing relationship with the NHS and for several years we have provided places for patients at all three homes who no longer need hospital care but are either waiting for home support packages or need some rehabilitation before going home.

PRHC and the NHS have an agreed allocation of “winter pressure” beds at Newfield. An extension of time was requested by the NHS to continue to use these beds on a longer term basis.

Directors and senior management assessed the risks associated with the extension of winter beds at Newfield. Increased volume of admissions and discharges inherently increases the threat of the virus being transferred into the home. The “transient patient pathway” at Newfield, would inevitably expose our permanent residents. We therefore expedited the transfer process as a result.

We apologise if we did not communicate these changes effectively enough to our residents and their families.

We are one of the few care home groups in the country which is frequently testing staff and patients, so we know what is happening in our homes.

With the increase in COVID-19 cases in the community regrettably we have had a number of cases of the virus across two of our homes. There have sadly been 2 deaths and 15 positive cases, 3 patients remain symptomatic of COVID-19 at Newfield. There has been 1 death and 10 positive cases of COVID-19 at Westbourne. (Figures correct at 17.00, 06/04/20). These numbers support the risks initially identified and the decision to move our residents.

Our thoughts and sympathies go to all families affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Please be assured that measures have been put in place to limit the chance of further transmission including stopping all visitors, residents no longer socialising together and other measures taken in consultation with Public Health England and infection control teams within the NHS.

On the 27th March the NHS requested all spare bed capacity within the group. To ensure anyone who no longer needed hospital care was not taking up a hospital bed in case extra beds were needed for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Six additional patients arrived from Sheffield Teaching Hospital into Newfield last week however, the home is now currently closed to new admissions.

On a broader point, I’m sad to say that news from the weekend shows that the situation we face across the Palms Row group is not unique in the care sector.

Care homes across the country are fighting for residents’ lives like never before. Words cannot describe how difficult the conditions are on the front line, many operate as an extension of the hospital system without adequate support.

We need improved PPE, more access to swab testing kits, faster access to more staff and volunteers, simplification of communication from government bodies as well as financial and moral support from local authorities and politicians.

The current issues we face here in Sheffield (and we now see in Glasgow, Liverpool and Portsmouth) will spread rapidly unless quick, decisive and co-ordinated action takes place now. We will be sharing evidence and best practice as much as possible with our colleagues in the NHS and care sector.

PRHC will provide all of the necessary support to make sure that ongoing care for residents continues in the same high standards that we have provided for many years.

Finally, I just wanted to pass on my heartfelt thanks for the supportive messages our hard working and dedicated staff have received from families and residents in recent days. Your support means the world to us.

Nicola Richards


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