Coronavirus: Nearly 400 home care groups 'have no protection'

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Media caption‘It’s vital we have the equipment we need to keep people safe’

Almost 400 care companies which provide home support across the UK still do not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE), the BBC has learned.

Without protection, providers say they may not be able to care for people awaiting hospital discharge.

Of 481 providers, 381 – 80% – said they did not have enough PPE to be able to support older and vulnerable people.

The government said it was working “around the clock” to give the sector the equipment it needs.

The BBC sent questions to the nearly 3,000 members of the UK Homecare Association.

About a quarter of respondents said they have either run out of masks or have less than a week’s supply left.

Suzanne Caterall, a senior homecare assistant at Westmorland Homecare, in Cumbria, supports people in their own homes.

She told the BBC that her company, which has hundreds of clients, has asked local businesses, such as a nail bar, vets and food suppliers, to help with PPE.

Dr Chris Moss, director of Westmorland Homecare, said the company has received some supplies from the government, but that stock will only last about a week.

Just under a third of the home care providers the BBC heard from were looking after people with Covid-19 symptoms.

Nearly all of the firms said they had some staff self-isolating, with a handful estimating that half their workforce was unavailable.

A further 621 UK deaths were announced on Sunday, bringing the nation’s total to 4,934.

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The Department of Health and Social Care said it was providing more than 26,000 pieces of PPE to social care settings, including care homes, home care providers and hospices.

A spokesperson said: “We are working with the military and established distributors to ensure PPE is available to all staff fighting this virus on the frontline.”

Thirteen residents at a Glasgow care home died in one week following a suspected outbreak of coronavirus. Two of the staff members tested positive and received hospital treatment.