Sick Sheffield care home workers felt 'under pressure' to work due to staff shortages

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Staff shortages in Sheffield care homes left sick workers feeling under pressure to go in, a health watchdog has revealed.

Healthwatch Sheffield heard from people who felt they ought to attend despite being unwell, or shielding.

A survey of employees at seven care homes and residents in 31 homes also found a lack of PPE and GPs unwilling to visit during the outbreak.

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In a report to Sheffield Council, it states: “Care homes report struggling with staff shortages at the beginning of lockdown, but for some this has now improved.

“Linked to staff shortages, some staff members told us they are feeling under pressure to go into work when they are unwell or shielding.

“Several people working in care homes have told us that lack of information, or information not being passed to them in a timely way, has negatively impacted their work and planning.

“We’ve heard mixed feedback about GPs - some GPs are extremely supportive, while others have reportedly been unwilling to visit care homes even when residents are very unwell.”

PPE and testing has also been a problem.

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The report adds: “Staff at one care home told us they had ample PPE, but most of those who got in touch with us raised real worries about supplies.

“Some homes managed to stock up in March but these supplies are now dwindling and they’re struggling to source more, while others have had very little for several weeks now.

“Staff members at several care homes told us of the difficulty they’re having in getting staff tested, particularly those who are asymptomatic, but in some cases those who are displaying symptoms as well.

“Some told us they’re also still having trouble getting residents tested.”

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Healthwatch says in care homes which have not had any Covid-19 cases, or who have managed to limit spread within the home, there is a sense this is because of good leadership decisions, willingness of staff to be extremely flexible and taking action before government guidelines came into force.

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