Covid outbreak will cost Shropshire care home organisation more than £500,000 by end of year, boss says

The impact of Covid-19 will cost Shropshire’s largest independent care provider in excess of £500,000 by the end of the year, its boss says.

David Coull, chief executive of Coverage Care Services, which operates 14 homes across the county, says the impact of the coronavirus outbreak has been substantial.

He says the provider has been paying out up to £25,000 a month on personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.

Usually, protective equipment would cost the non-profit organisation £35,000 a year.

And he says anxieties caused by the virus have also led to delays in care home admissions.

Looking to the future, he believes closures are inevitable across the sector.

"The impact has been quite considerable," he said.

"In terms of people delaying admission, additional costs and sickness, the costs will certainly exceed half a million pounds by the end of this year.

"PPE is costing up to £25,000 a month, but the Government has announced that we can get free PPE from the start of October to the end of March. That's positive."

But he believes there will be casualties in the care home sector because of the pandemic.

Mr Coull said: "Inevitably it will mean that some care homes have got to close as a result.

"We have a sufficient number of homes and capacity to deal with the issues it throws up. We will continue to reinvest in the business and care homes we operate.

"I would be surprised if the smaller ones are not struggling but the larger ones might be coming under pressure from their shareholders."

He says the provider has been able to test up to 1,000 staff and residents each week and just a tiny number have tested positive for Covid-19.

He says they were showing no symptoms and had followed the correct procedures to self-isolate afterwards.

All non-essential visits to care homes in Shropshire have now been stopped in an effort to prevent more coronavirus deaths.

Both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils told care homes in the county that the visits are being restricted for the safety of residents.

It comes amid rising case numbers in the region.

But Mr Coull said care homes are still very much open for business and are still taking admissions, under strict guidelines.

He said: "We have absolute admiration for the work our staff have done.

"Care homes remain a safe environment for people who are unable to look after themselves. Families should not be concerned about people coming into a care home setting."

Mr Coull said when visiting restrictions are imposed it is done with the best intentions of residents in mind and they have still been able to stay in touch with their families via digital devices.

"One of the first things we did when we first prevented non-essential visitors was to buy 35 to 40 devices for people to stay in touch with their families," he added.

"When we opened to visitors we put in place thermal imaging cameras so we could take people's temperatures in a non invasive way."

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