Sheffield care home deaths almost three times higher during coronavirus first wave

Almost three times as many care home residents in Sheffield died between March and May last year than lost their lives in the equivalent period the previous year, new council figures show.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 4:45 pm

Between March 1 and May 31 2020, 218 people over the age of 65 who had placements in care homes via Sheffield Council died compared to just 78 the previous year, a 178 per cent increase.

The data also shows that in 2018 the equivalent figure was only slightly higher at 85.

The figures, which were obtained by The Star via a Freedom of Information Act request, further emphasise just how catastrophic the first wave of coronavirus was for care homes in the city.

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Deaths in Sheffied care homes increased significantly last year (stock image).

In total, between April 10, 2020 and January 8, 2021, 350 people are thought to have died from Covid-19 in the city’s care homes, while across England, more than 20,000 lost their lives to the killer virus.

However, reports suggest that even this figure may be a substantial underestimate and the true figure across the UK might be up to 10,000 higher.

The area of Sheffield with most coronavirus deaths in 2020 was Crabtree and Fir Vale, where 71 people died last year.

As well as being a relatively deprived part of the city, the area also has a large number of care homes which is thought to have contributed to the high death rate.

Last year, the owner of one of those homes, the Palms Row Health Care operated Westbourne House, appealed for more support from Sheffield Council to help them cope with the crisis.

Twenty one residents died in Palms Row homes in the first wave of coronavirus, and one of their sites - Newfield Nursing Homes in Heeley - was put up for sale in September.

Managing director Nicola Richards said she had repeatedly warned that care home closures were likely if more support was not made available to providers.

She said: “In many ways, Covid-19 has been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Care homes across the country are struggling and our news today is a sad reminder that social care needs urgent support and long-term funding solutions agreed in order to be viable.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.