A care home in Wigan, with a care home rating of “requires improvement”, has recorded the most Covid deaths across England in a year, according to data released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Bedford Care Home in Leigh, part of the Advinia Care Homes group, recorded 44 deaths. The care home recording the second highest number of deaths at 41 was based in Somerset.
Across Greater Manchester 1,944 care home residents died due to Covid, between 10 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, with over half dying during the first wave of the pandemic. Across England the total number of Covid care home deaths was 39,265 over the year, according to the CQC data.
The Mill View Care Home on Bridegman Street in Bolton recorded 37 Covid deaths over the year, the fourth largest total across England, and the highest in Bolton. Mill View is also part of the Advinia Care Homes group.
The figures, released by the CQC show all death notifications by care homes, where the deaths have been either suspected or confirmed as due to Covid-19. This is the first time the CQC has released data on Covid deaths in England’s care homes, broken down to show death’s occurring in individual homes, and follows the release of similar data by public authorities in Scotland on deaths there.
Graphic: Hovering over the column will provide further information about the care home in each borough. The first three care homes have been named, the remaining seven have an ID number used in the CQC data and their full details can be revealed by accessing the CQC data set.
The graphic above shows the details of the care homes in each of the ten Greater Manchester Boroughs that recorded the largest number of deaths due to Covid. The CQC data set grouped the care homes into size bands based on the number of registered beds, 1-10 beds being classed as small, 11-49 as medium and 50 plus as large. All the care homes included in the graphic above were in the large band.
The last CQC inspection of Bedford Care home was carried out on 11 March 2020, just prior to the first lockdown being announced on 23 March. Bedford Care Home, which can care for up to 180 but housed 145 people at the time, was given an overall rating of “requires improvement”. The CQC inspection summary stated:
“We identified continued issues with the management of medicines, staff supervision and support. We have made recommendations relating to safe staffing levels, care planning, suitability of the environment, supplementary charts and staff, resident and relative meeting completion as each requires improvement.”
The CQC website says they are currently carrying out a “review of quality” at Bedford Care Home. Mill View Care Home was last inspected on the 25 November 2019 and received an overall rating of “Good”.
The Bedford Care Home in Wigan and Mill View in Bolton were contacted for comment regarding Covid deaths at their homes. A spokesperson for Advinia Health Care, which owns both care homes, said:
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with all of those families who have lost a loved one as a result of COVID-19. Every death is a human tragedy, and the impact of the pandemic has been devastating for far too many people.
“We are proud to operate some of the largest care homes in England, homes that are often more than four times the size of the average care home, which is true of Bedford Care Home.
“This means we often care for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities, individuals who live with multiple co-morbidities. We worked tirelessly and in close partnership with our local authority partners, Public Health England and the NHS to provide the highest quality care to residents during this unprecedented period for the social care sector.
“As the CQC reports itself, the numbers of COVID-19 death notifications (confirmed and suspected), alone are not a reliable indicator of quality or safety in individual care homes and the situation amongst older people was dependent upon many interrelated factors such as complex co-morbidities, hospital admissions and a growing understanding of the transmissibility of the virus.
“Our homes were as well prepared as they could have been at the time the pandemic started, and forward planning meant that we never faced a shortage of PPE.”
Graphic: Hovering over the columns reveals further data including the number of small, medium and large care homes in each borough. The total number of Covid deaths across all care homes in GM between 10 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 was 1,944.
In Greater Manchester care homes Covid deaths were recorded in Wigan, with a total of 291. Trafford registered the lowest number of deaths, with 139. Bury, which recorded the fifth largest number of overall deaths at 202, is also the location of Gorsey Clough Nursing Home, which registered the third highest number of Covid deaths, 33 in total, in Greater Manchester.
Gorsey Clough’s last CQC inspection was carried out on the 21 October 2020 and received an overall “Good” rating. The home’s website states it accommodates “50 beds”, and working in partnership with the local authority and the NHS in May 2020 it offered 11 of those beds as a “Nightingale” care home facility, to allow elderly patients ill with Covid to be discharged from hospital and stay in comfortable surroundings, with access to family visits while they received care. For some patients that was end of life care. Due to the council’s involvement in the Nightingale facility, a Bury council spokesperson responded to the release of data showing 33 deaths at the home, saying:
“The figures… relate to a single care home designated for end of life care of patients, something we did early on and before it was government policy.
“This was an incredibly hard decision to make, but it meant that elderly people with Covid who were dying in hospital – at the start of the pandemic, on their own and without their family – were able to be discharged to spend their final days here. They could have a visitor and did not need to die in hospital. At this time, our hospice was unable to admit people with the virus. In the early days of the pandemic at least, it did stop outbreaks and deaths in other care homes.”
Graphic: Covid deaths in Greater Manchester, by financial year quarters. The first quarter starts at 10 April as it is the date the CQC asked providers to specifically indicate Covid-19 on the death notification forms. The CQC quarterly figures excluded information from small care homes.
The Nightingale care home facility at Gorsey Clough was set up in May 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic, which corresponds to the first quarter data recorded by the CQC that shows more than half (1,113) of the total deaths in care homes due to Covid occurred in the first quarter between 10 April and 30 June 2020.
Matt Hancock, then the health secretary, first promised a “protective ring” around care homes on 15 May 2020, before going on to publicly deny saying this. Many care homes were left struggling without sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment early in the pandemic and a decision by government ministers ordering 15,000 hospital beds to be vacated by 27 March did not help the situation.
The government described it as a “national effort” that would “save thousands of lives” to the care homes many of the patients were discharged to, and that there was no need to test patients discharged because Covid-19 sufferers “can be safely cared for in a care home”.
Speaking about the latest CQC figures, which can be broken down into individual care homes unlike the ONS data, Hugh Alderwick from the Health Foundation charity said the CQC figures showed “the grim toll that the pandemic has taken on people in care homes.
“Central government support for social care during the pandemic was often too little, too late, particularly during the first wave,” Alderwick said. “The government’s claim of ‘a protective ring’ around care homes was not grounded in reality.”
By the end of May 2020, 16,000 residents of care and nursing homes had died across the UK, compared to fewer than 3,000 in Germany.
The CQC data is presented online alongside data from Public Health England which records deaths, outside of care homes, from multiple sources linked to confirmed case data of Covid infection. The CQC points out that there may be some double counting between the CQC data and the PHE data due to some care home residents being in hospital when they died, so they may appear on both sets of figures so they are not “directly comparable”. But comparing these figures can give an indication how hard the pandemic hit the vulnerable minority living in care homes.
During quarter one there were 3,081 death notifications involving Covid-19 in the North West of England recorded by the CQC. In the same period there were 4,489 Covid-19 deaths registered by PHE across the North West.
To see the CQC data online, with online maps indicating the location of care homes across England – click here
Featured image: Piqsels