Care homes with fewer beds have been less likely to suffer resident deaths due to COVID-19 during the pandemic, a new report has found.
The study by research group Collateral Global, which was reported by the BMJ, examined data from 25 countries, including UK, US, Australia, Belgium, France, Canada, Israel and France.
Analysis in the US found that COVID-19 cases and deaths were significantly lower in ‘Green House’ homes which usually have fewer than 12 beds, which, as well being less crowded, offer significantly more care hours a day than a traditional nursing home.
The global study revealed that people living in care homes accounted for 30% of all COVID deaths despite making up only 1% of the world’s population.
In England and Wales, the study found 25,611 excess deaths in care homes and hospices between March and June 2000, 61% of which (15,623) were due to COVID-19.
The study suggested undiagnosed COVID-19, poor testing and inadequate staffing and infection control were the likely factors contributing to the excess deaths.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, chair of the National Care Association, said: “In preparation for the impact [of COVID-19] governments across the world focused on making sure that their hospitals were ready for the inevitable support they would need and set about creating capacity by discharging people out of the acute settings into support services. What followed was a seeding of the virus into support settings, like care homes, at a time when there was little or no testing available.
“Clearly, care settings had not been adequately prepared, by any of the governments’ strategies to manage the crisis that followed, and we lost residents who already had complex healthcare conditions, which was why they were in a care setting in the first place. The reality is that in the absence of a plan to support and protect older people in care settings we saw the consequences unfold in a way that potentially saw people losing their lives prematurely.”
Martin Green OBE, chief executive officer of Care England, said: “Adult social care and the NHS are two sides of the same coin and need to be treated as such. The government shouldn’t have placed such a myopic focus on the NHS without due consideration for social care too.”