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‘Incredible emotional pressure’ led to care home owner’s suicide

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An inquest has heard that a care home owner killed himself as a result of the “incredible emotional pressure” of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vernon Hough, who ran Gwastad Hall Nursing Home in Wrexham, was found dead in his car at North Wales Police station on 21 May.

Mrs Hough, who described her husband as a “worrier”, told the inquest that Mr Hough had been “panicked” by the pandemic and was “constantly talking about COVID-19”, the BBC reported.

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The widow told the inquest Mr Hough had lost weight due to worry and had previously been prescribed anti-depressants.

Mrs Hough said her husband had been finding it difficult to cope with seeing residents with COVID in distress.

“At the time we were struggling to get oxygen in the care home,” she said. “I still cannot get oxygen and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic.”

The care home owner said the couple were also having difficulty sourcing PPE and were having to buy it on Amazon.

Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “This is a tragic case and very sadly illustrates the enormous pressure care home owners and their staff have been under as a result of the pandemic.

“It’s been such a terribly dark time for people working in the sector and the sense of responsibility felt by Vernon toward the residents of Gwastad Hall clearly became too much for him to bear.

“Running a care home is an immense responsibility at the best of times, but the pressures of keeping the virus at bay were compounded by the shortage of essential supplies like oxygen and PPE which made things even more difficult.

“When you’re running a care home, you’re never away from it because you’re providing care for the most vulnerable people in society who are uniquely at risk because of their age and infirmity.

“We are all rightly mindful of the residents – and I am sure this played a part in this tragedy – but we also have to be mindful of the staff, managers and owners who operate these care homes. We also have a duty of care to them because sometimes their wellbeing is overlooked.

“Our thoughts are very much with Vernon’s family, friends and staff at this extremely difficult time, not to mention the residents to whom he was utterly devoted.”

If you are struggling with mental health issues you can find support by calling the Samaritans helpline: 116 123.

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The author Lee Peart

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