“I think this is disgraceful and grossly negligent. It is something that the government must act on immediately in order to safeguard those that are most vulnerable” Managing director Tom Lyons states, after Freedom of Information request shows Norfolk’s Community Nurses are not subject to Covid19 testing. 

Headshot of Tom Lyons, managing director of Black Swan Care Group.

The government have proposed a law which will limit care sector workers to one care facility, to help prevent the spread of Covid19. We understand the basis for this legislation; however we think the standards imposed upon care homes should be applied to all health and social care staff working not only in residential care, but the community care sector too. 

The care sector has historically had a problem attracting new staff, as well as high turnover with unpredictable levels of retention which puts residential care providers in a situation where they will be forced to make a very hard decision should this be written into law.

We were lucky enough that a number of our homes staff made the decision to work extra hours to limit the need for agency staff in the homes, but this isn’t something every home can do. 

“It is never a care homes intention to rely on agency workers. They are far more expensive than employing a stable workforce and do not provide the same continuity of care that a full-time employee can provide. Unfortunately, given that the alternative is to run with an unsafe level of staffing there are occasions unfortunately where this is necessary” – Tom Lyons, Managing director, Black Swan Care Group. 

All of our homes have Wavewash machines to ensure our staff and residents are washing their hands for the correct duration of time.

As a residential care provider we have taken every measure we can to stop Coronavirus entering our homes as well as taking every precaution to limit the spread of potential infection; from thermal scanners taking the temperature of everyone entering the home, antimicrobial spraying of all surfaces and furniture on a monthly basis, robust cleaning regimes, enhanced infection control and Covid19 staff training modules, and most importantly every member of our staff is required to have a weekly test which we provide, in line with government legislation.  Should any staff member test positive for Covid19 they are paid in full for their two weeks isolation.  

We feel that we are doing everything we can, and are incredibly committed to the safety of our residents, and our staff.  Due to this we felt it was important to ensure anyone entering our homes was not posing a risk to the people we have pledged to care for. 

Thermal scanners face the doors in our entryways and scan everyone’s temperature on arrival.

A freedom of information request was sent to the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, which revealed that Community Nurses who visit multiple care sites throughout the county as well as the homes of the most vulnerable, are not being tested.

This is of utmost concern to us as the trust employs 185 staff that as part of their role as a community nurse, visit care homes. Of these 185 community nurses not one has been included within a weekly testing regime since the pandemic began in March. As part of the freedom of information request the trust also confirmed that not one of these 185 nurses has ever been tested for Covid 19.

Freedom of Information request submitted by Black Swan to Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

“I think this is disgraceful and grossly negligent. It is something that the government must act on immediately in order to safeguard those that are most vulnerable” – Managing Director, Tom Lyons. 

We are pleading with the government to broaden the testing regimes to include the role of community nurses who can visit multiple different care facilities and individuals homes in one day, as without testing we cannot be sure that they pose no risk to our staff and residents. 

“My plea to the government is to broaden the testing regimes, to stop intimating that care homes are being purposely neglectful and trust them to act in residents best interests, recognise that care homes are now some of the most COVID secure places and to improve funding so that care staff can be paid and recognised for the skilled workers they are” – Managing Director, Tom Lyons. 

2020 has seen changes across every industry and every avenue of our lives; with health and social care industries having to adapt to everchanging legislation with little to no notice. We are proud to say we have complied with all government legislation and Care Quality Commission recommendations, as well as expanding our own initiatives to make our staff and residents as safe as possible. 

The care we provide to our residents, and the support we provide to our staff is the most important thing to us as a company and we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of the people who have put their faith in us as a care provider.