Crisis in borough care homes

Elizabeth Care Home in Highlands
Elizabeth Lodge Care Home in Highlands is one of the worst affected by coronavirus in the borough – victims include staff member Sonya Kaygan

Meeting hears that 146 care home residents have died across Enfield, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Care providers will be given extra financial support amid fears the coronavirus pandemic could force some homes to shut down.

Top-up grants worth 5% of the cost of current care placements will be made to providers for services bought by Enfield Council for a period of up to three months. Senior councillors agreed the extra support at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday – the first cabinet meeting to be livestreamed using video conferencing technology.

Councillors held a minute’s silence at the start of the meeting as a mark of respect for those who had lost their lives to Covid-19 and paid tribute to frontline workers tackling the pandemic. But they also warned of the financial impact facing the care sector, as a drop in the number of placements cuts companies’ income streams.

Enfield has 82 care homes – the third-highest number in London.

Doug Wilson, the council’s head of strategy and service development, said deaths in the borough’s care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic had been four times the expected rate, with some care homes having seen nearly one third of their residents die during the crisis to date. He told the meeting: “That is a terrible human cost, but it’s also a financial pressure on our providers.

“The number of providers who have lost a quarter or almost a third of their residents places a very significant burden on them as businesses – many of them small, local businesses.

“We have a large number of providers, but also a significant demand for that service. If we were to lose a large number of providers as a result of financial issues, that would have all sorts of implications for us as a borough.

“This would be both in terms of people’s ability to have local services that are closer to their homes and loved ones, but also a financial impact in terms of a decrease in supply, which would naturally increase the cost of things.”

Doug added that more “significant interventions” from the council may be needed to support care providers.

The top-up grant scheme will be funded using part of a £17.9million government support package provided to the council to cover costs relating to Covid-19. It comes on top of a range of other measures put in place by the council to support the care sector, including the provision of more than 1.5 million free items of personal protective equipment (PPE)

Councillor Alev Cazimoglu, cabinet member for health and social care, told councillors 146 residents in Enfield’s care homes had lost their lives in just over a month. She said she thought it was only now becoming apparent to the government that the social care sector had been bearing the brunt of the pressure on the front line as a result of the “horrendous” coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Cazimoglu added: “The council is doing everything we can to protect our vulnerable residents and staff from this dreadful disease. We are putting every possible effort into supporting people in care homes and those receiving care in their own homes.”