The forgotten frontline

Last Updated: April 30, 2020 This post was written by Clive Price
Two care home workers are putting on their PPE masks and aprons

We hear of the Coronavirus crisis in hospitals, not care homes. The ‘second frontline’ of the Covid-19 war slips quietly under the radar. Our friends at Methodist Homes (MHA) are battling hard to change that.

They’ve launched a petition calling for ‘correct and necessary’ PPE in the care sector. Methodist Homes is the nation’s biggest charitable provider, but they’re not campaigning just for themselves. It’s for everyone in their sector.

They want to ensure all carers are equipped with the tools they need

MHA want as many people as possible to join them to put pressure on the Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They want to ensure all carers are equipped with the tools they need to safely do their job.

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. In care homes that means care workers need face masks, eye protection, aprons and gloves. In nursing homes, it also means wearing full gowns just like hospital staff. Being such a big network – with more than 4,000 older people living in their homes – MHA are constantly ordering supplies. And if one home runs out of PPE, they can shift stock around to help.

The price is high. According to PR Manager Theresa Knight, MHA recently had to buy fresh stocks of face masks. These protectors usually cost 20p per unit. For this latest order, MHA had to fork out £1 per mask. If that’s the pressure on a large care provider, what are the stresses on smaller agencies?

MHA Chief Executive Sam Monaghan has been promoting the needs of care homes across the national media. He has appeared on BBC, LBC, ITN and been written about in The Guardian and The Observer.

They see offering end-of-life care as ‘an absolute privilege’

Care manager Julie Roche also spoke of her experiences on The Guardian podcast, Today in Focus. Her MHA home Westbury Grange was full of ‘music and dancing’ until Covid-19 ripped through the facility and took 13 lives. Julie is a nurse, so she respects her NHS colleagues.

But she feels older people in care homes are ‘almost written off’. It’s a risky time for care workers. Yet still they see offering end-of-life care as ‘an absolute privilege’.

MHA has been looking after older people since before the creation of the Welfare State. They started about five years before MMHS. We have a shared history, and we’re promoting their petition. (Photo: MHA)