Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

Coronavirus: The safe option for the elderly amid care home fears

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Concerns are rising over the safety of elders in care homes after it has been uncovered that the coronavirus is “running wild” in care homes, according to charity Age UK. Britain's largest care home operator said that coronavirus was present in two-thirds of their care homes.

Families are starting to make the move from care homes to care at home services. Guardian Carers, experts in providing live-in care at home, have seen a 30% rise in worried families seeking care at home for loved ones.

Guardian Carers CEO Vanessa Cook says “we have seen a 30% increase in demand for carers, which is a very significant increase.” This comes partly as a result of “nervousness around care home safety during this pandemic.”


Moving from care homes to at-home care services

“More families are requesting live-in care so their carer may isolate along with their elderly loved one,” says Cook, as opposed to them remaining in a care home. The managing director of the care provider, Renate Winkler, further explains that they have indeed seen an influx, as a result of fears over care home safety.

“A lot of people want to move their parents out of care homes, even on a temporary basis, until things get better.” Some are also making the move from live-out care to live-in care. Since mid-March, 85% of carers placed were for live-in.

The safety of care homes

“Families are concerned about their loved ones’ safety in care homes,” says Cook. “The virus spreads easily and with multiple care workers in such care homes coming and going each day, the risk of someone bringing the virus onto the care home is high. With such a high number of vulnerable people in the space of the care home, the risk to individuals is higher than if they were to be isolated at home with one carer.”

Winkler says that care homes are safe to some extent, “if the staff is self-isolating in the care homes and don’t go out”, but personalised care is “much safer” than care homes. That is because most people are looking at live-in care, which means the carer self-isolates at home with the elder. If the client doesn’t want someone to live in their home Guardian Carers still picks “someone who is very local, who either has their own car, so they’re not using public transport or someone who is within walking distance.”

Care homes compared to at-home services

Statistically, the majority of their carers “only work for 1 person, maximum 2 at a time.” “We look more at carers working with people for long-term and building relationships,” says Winkler. “So a lot of our carers are already not exposed to that many people and it’s much easier for them to self-isolate” compared to care homes, where carers tend to multiple patients.


Winkler says they’ve had to be in close contact with their carers, “trace what people have been doing in the past 2 weeks and make sure they are self-isolating.”

“We’re really putting in all this effort to minimise any risk,” she says. They have enhanced vetting procedures for carers, but are also able to provide them with gloves and masks. They can even “test the carers for Covid-19 when a client hires full-time staff.”

“Elderly care is going to play a really important part in being able to control this,” thinks Winkler. “In some aspects being able to prevent people from getting it” because Guardian Carers work with people in their homes so “it’s our job to make sure they are shielded. I think that if it’s done correctly we will be able to take a huge strain off the NHS and the government.”

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