New data reveals the number of Covid-related deaths in Sheffield care homes

New data has for the first time revealed the number of deaths of elderly people ‘involving Covid’ reported by care homes in Sheffield since the beginning of the pandemic.

By Lloyd Bent
Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 10:07 am

The Care Quality Commission collated every single death notification it received from care homes in the city where Covid was listed between April 10, 2020 and the end of March, 2021.

In Sheffield, a total of 482 ‘care home deaths involving Covid’ were reported.

The majority of these – 330 – were in the first quarter of the year under scrutiny, when concerns about the spread of the virus in care homes were making headlines, there were no vaccinations, and the virus was not as well understood as it is now.

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The vaccine rollout in Sheffield has significantly reduced the risk to elderly people of dying after catching Covid.

The second quarter saw just 10 deaths reported in Sheffield, whereas the third and fourth quarters saw 88 and 54 deaths involving Covid reported respectively.

A report from the CQC pointed out: “The impact of the pandemic on people who draw on and work in adult social care services has been devastating and despite the best efforts of staff, Covid-19 has contributed to a significant increase in the number of deaths in nursing and residential care settings.

"Throughout the pandemic, CQC has encouraged care providers to be open with people in their care and their loved ones and most providers have ensured that information about the circumstance of people’s deaths is shared appropriately.

“It is important to note that death notifications do not in themselves indicate poor quality care, particularly given the potential influence of variable factors, including rates of local community transmission, size of the care home, and the age and health and care needs of the people living there.

“Moreover, many notifications relate to the deaths of care home residents which occurred in other care settings.”

The inclusion of a death in the published figures as being involved with Covid-19 is based on the statement of the care home provider, which may or may not correspond to a medical diagnosis or test result or be reflected in the death certification.

The data has been published with a view to giving care workers information that helps them ‘share and reflect on what has gone well well’ and ‘learn from what hasn’t during the pandemic.

The data covers deaths of residents involving Covid-19 under the care of the provider as notified to CQC, regardless of where the virus was contracted or where the death occurred, including in the care home, in hospital, in an ambulance or in any other setting.

For example, a resident may have been admitted from a care home to hospital with a fracture, contracted Covid-19 while in hospital, and subsequently died without returning to the care home.

Greg Fell, Director of Public Health for Sheffield said: “We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profoundly devastating impact on people who have lost loved ones and on people needing support.

"Care homes right across the city have worked incredibly hard to minimise this impact and we thank them for everything that they have done.

"Circumstances were so difficult all round and as the pandemic progressed, people adapted, worked flexibly and followed guidance as well as they possibly could to try and save lives. Our thoughts are with everyone who is grieving from the loss of a family member, a friend, a colleague.

"We are still doing everything that we can from a public health perspective to keep people safe.”

Alexis Chappell, Director of Adult Health and Social Care added: “Our thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones in our city and those impacted in all sorts of ways as a result of this awful pandemic.

"Throughout the last 18 months we have worked very closely with our care homes to support them through an incredibly difficult period. We thank them for everything that they did to help and for what they are still doing to keep those that they care for as safe as possible.

"We are committed to continuing to support colleagues working within care homes during what is still a very challenging time for them.”

Kate Terroni, CQC’s chief inspector of adult social care, said: “In considering this data it is important to remember that every number represents a life lost – and families, friends and those who cared for them who are having to face the sadness and consequences of their death.

“We have a duty to be transparent and to act in the public interest, and we made a commitment to publish data at this level, but only once we felt able to do so as accurately and safely as possible given the complexity and sensitivity of the data.”