Non-COVID infectious outbreaks are costing care homes up to £70m a year, according to new independent research.
Research by experienced care sector executive, Philip Smith (pictured), found that diarrhoea and vomiting (D&V) outbreaks were costing a care home an average of between £2,200 and £8,400 each week.
With BMC Infectious Diseases data in 2019 putting the number of D&V instances annually in the UK’s 21,000 plus care homes at 8,277, the research estimates that the sector is losing a minimum of two million hours of care each year.
Philip said: “I do not believe that the cost of infectious illness in the care sector has been properly calculated before and I was very surprised, and shocked, by the outcomes. Even using conservative estimates for the calculations, it has highlighted the significant real-world impact of infectious outbreaks in care homes.
“I have been involved in the care sector for more than 20 years, have been chief executive and chairman of care home and hospital groups and I own a care home. The COVID-19 pandemic has put infection control under the microscope, and I decided to research this subject after thinking about what the new world of infection control may look like post COVID-19.
“This research is pertinent to every part of the care sector and demonstrates the financial cost to operators and services of outbreaks of illness and the effects to the bottom line, which is already squeezed.
“The thought that tens of millions of pounds and the lost care equivalent of up to 1,500 carers is just written off every year is a damning indictment and I hope that politicians, the regulator, commissioners and care home operators take note and together we can look at measures to mitigate both the financial and care implications. Care homes need a collaborative, ‘intelligence’ led system that enables the sharing of data and allows early interventions to be put in place.”