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Care-home operator has waited for 10 days for testing kits to arrive

DESPITE two of its residents dying with coronavirus, a care-home operator has been waiting 10 days for testing kits to arrive, its healthcare director said today.

Vida Healthcare provides specialist support for up to 194 residents living with dementia in its two care homes in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Director Bernadette Mossman said that kits promised by Public Health England to test residents showing symptoms never arrived. She said that one employee had to travel 50 miles to Manchester to get tested on Sunday.

“The biggest issue has been delivery of home testing kits to the home. We have had a delay with that and that’s been unfortunate,” Ms Mossman said.

“For people living with dementia, self-isolation can be a struggle, because if they can’t retain that information, it can be very difficult.”

Dr Mike Gent, deputy director of health protection at Public Health England (Yorkshire & Humber), said that the government has committed to testing all care-home residents and staff showing symptoms.

General union GMB in Yorkshire said that care homes were suffering shortages of both protective wear and testing kits.

Regional officer Rachel Dix told the Morning Star: “We have had lots of discussion about PPE [personal protective equipment] but testing is absolutely vital.

“The testing kit would not be such an issue if staff had appropriate PPE and could also afford to stay at home if they have the virus.

“We constantly have members in a dilemma, because if they have to self-isolate, they have to survive on statutory sick pay, which is less than £96 a week.

“What we are hearing is that PPE is getting through — but not to staff on the front line.

“We have had reports of care-home managers locking the equipment in their cars and offices and staff having to make a case for why they need it.

“One thing that is really annoying me is that the focus is on PPE — but nobody is talking about the fantastic people risking their lives, mainly on the minimum wage. It is criminal.

“Hopefully home careworkers will come out of all this into a better situation.”

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