Empty care home beds almost double from previous year

Care homes are facing uncertainty as the number of empty beds have almost doubled from last year, a 5 News/National Care Association survey has found.

The survey included 256 care home providers and found that there were 2,404 empty beds in June from a potential 9,735. At the same time last year there were 1,281 empty beds.

In total, the average occupancy rate of the surveyed homes was 81% in June, down from 92% the previous June.

At one care home run by Croft Care Group, half of the beds are empty.

The impact of COVID-19 has put an already underfunded sector under immense pressure and many homes have been badly affected financially, according to The National Care Association.

“The government response to calls for support was late and inadequate, they must now redeem themselves by responding to the call for urgent support to halt provider failure across the country as the sector faces rising debt and low occupancy” said NCA Chairman Nadra Ahmed.

It has been said that without any government support, care homes may not be financially viable in the future.

Many care homes have lost residents to COVID-19 which has created vacancies and huge financial losses.

The Tregwilym Lodge Nursing and Residential Home in Rogerstone, Newport lost 21 residents to COVID-19. Home manager Karen Healey said: “There’s been no engagement in respect to whether we’re going to have extra staff, whether we’ve got enough PPE in the system or staff flu jabs”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have been working closely with the sector and public health experts to put in place guidance and support for adult social care including testing all residents and staff, funding a care home support package worth £600m and making a further £3.7bn available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic”.

The survey is part of a 5 News special programme ‘Covid Care Home Crisis – What Now?’ which will air Wednesday 5 August at 6.30pm on Channel 5.

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