The number of COVID-19 related deaths in care homes has dropped by a third in the latest weekly statistics published by the ONS.
Figures for the week ending May 22 show that there were 1,090 COVID-19 related care home deaths in England and Wales, down by more than a third on the 1,660 recorded in the week to May 15.
The figures signal the fourth consecutive week that COVID-19 deaths in care homes have declined from the peak of 2,794 recorded in the week ending April 24.
On a cumulative basis, more than 12,000 deaths involving COVID-19 have been registered by the ONS up to May 22 with the number of deaths in Wales reaching 591.
Separate data recorded by the CQC, covering the period between April 10 and May 29, shows there were 11,186 deaths involving COVID-19 notified in England, of which 531 occurred in the week to May 29.
Data recorded by Care Inspectorate Wales shows that 462 deaths involving COVID-19 occurred between March 17 and May 29, of which 35 occurred in the week up to May 29.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association, told CHP: “It is heartening to note that the rate of deaths in care homes from COVID-19 is on the decline which is a testament to the staff who are working in these services as they achieved this without external support.
“However, with a predicted second wave post the easing of lockdown, providers are increasingly concerned that testing is still so patchy. Without testing the risk of the infection remains high in care services and it has to be available on a continuous basis across the whole sector not just parts of it – all vulnerable people and their carers need to be protected, there can be no discrimination.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, added: “Despite the very welcome decline in death rates for the fourth week running, this is no time for complacency. Care homes are communities of the most vulnerable people, and we must do all we can to stop outbreaks of COVID-19 in the care sector.”
Independent Care Group Chair Mike Padgham, also welcomed today’s figures but warned against complacency and the potential for the coronavirus to take hold again with the relaxing of lockdown measures.
“Lockdown measures are being relaxed and we understand why,” Mike said. “But coronavirus in care and nursing homes hasn’t gone away and it is vital that we proceed safely and sensibly to keep protecting our most vulnerable.”
Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, added: “This is great news but we must treat it as a golden opportunity to make sure we get things right – and don’t repeat the mistakes that happened when the country first went into lockdown. We need guarantees on regular testing, the use of and training on using PPE equipment and an undertaking that hospitals aren’t discharging people with COVID-19 into care homes. We cannot have care homes and other care settings once again becoming incubators for infection. And it’s also a good opportunity to make sure that care and support links with health in a national, co-ordinated way, so that people also have the best experiences and outcomes in the long-term, not just during the pandemic.”