Two die at Sheffield care home during coronavirus outbreak

Managers at a Sheffield care company which was criticised after moving residents between two of its sites during the coronavirus outbreak have revealed two patients have since died from the disease in their homes while another nine have tested positive.

By Robyn Vinter and Dan Hayes
Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 4:58 pm

Palms Row Health Care says two residents at Newfield nursing home in Heeley have so far died from Covid-19, with another four testing positive and nine more having symptoms, while at Westbourne House care home in Grimesthorpe a further five residents have tested positive for the disease.

Earlier this week, the company was criticised by the families of two 90-year-old female residents for moving their relatives during the outbreak, with one accusing them of moving his mother out of Newfield for purely financial reasons.

Palms Row, however, insist this wasn’t the case and that the decision was taken in the best interests of patients.

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Nicola Richards, director or Palms Row Health Care, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with the NHS and for several years we have provided places for patients who no longer need hospital care but are either waiting for home support packages or need some rehabilitation before going home.

“The current public health emergency has had a huge impact on the care system. In mid-March we made the difficult decision to move permanent residents out of Newfield and into the other homes in our group. We felt this was the safest course of action to safeguard our residents, relatives and staff.

“On March 27, the NHS requested any spare bed capacity with us to ensure anyone who no longer needed hospital care was not taking up a hospital bed in case extra beds were needed for the Covid-19 outbreak.

“We were already in the process of reconfiguring our care homes and we had offered our permanent Newfield residents the option of moving to another home in our group.

Newfield Nursing Home in Heeley, Sheffield (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

“In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the senior management team assessed the risks across all three homes and expedited the process as a result. We apologise if we did not communicate these changes effectively enough to our residents and their families.”

As well as responding to the concerns of the families, Ms Richards also revealed outbreaks of coronavirus had now occurred at both Newfield and Westbourne House.

“With the increase in COVID-19 cases in the community regrettably we have had a number of cases of the virus across two of our homes,” she said.

“Measures have been put in place to limit the chance of further transmission including stopping all visitors, residents no longer socialising together and other measures taken in consultation with Public Health England and infection control teams within the NHS.”

But Rob Linley - whose mother Ellen was one of those moved from Newfield to Westbourne House last month - said the explanation set out by the company didn’t ring true and that allowing residents to move in and out of the home after it was supposedly locked down had put them at unnecessary risk.

He said: “For them to say the NHS only requested extra beds on March 27 just doesn’t add up. They told us they were closing Newfield down on March 12 and that both homes were full - but they still moved 22 people out and 22 people in after that date.

“It is true they have had a relationship with the NHS for a long time to provide respite care but the patients were moved after the home had supposedly been locked down. We were stopped from visiting my mother on her 90th birthday as a result.

“By doing this I believe they have put 44 people in danger - as well as all the staff - and I would suggest that is when coronavirus is likely to have got into the homes. We have sent a long list of questions to the home which they have still not answered.”