The World Health Organization (WHO) have revealed on Thursday that nearly half of all European deaths were in care homes.
Hans Kluge the European director of the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva the coronavirus deaths are “unimaginable human tragedy.”
Kluge warned that staff are lacking vital equipment and are “overstretched and underpaid,” and that “frail” older people have a “good chance of recovery if they are well-cared for.”
Due to the shortage of Covid-19 testing kits those who die in care homes are missed out of the daily statistics.
Kluge said that those who live in care homes are “particularly vulnerable to this virus.”
The WHO director said, “According to estimates from countries in the European region, up to half of those who have died from Covid-19 were resident in long-term care facilities.
“This is an unimaginable human tragedy.
“To the many who are experiencing this loss, my thoughts are with you.”
Those who have disabilities such as dementia are more vulnerable as they have difficulties understanding advice, Kluge said.
He said, “Many today are prevented from receiving visits from family and friends. No longer getting the emotional and physical support that such visits provide.
“Sometimes residents face the threat of abuse and neglect.
“And yet equally troubling the way that such care facilities operate, how residents receive care is providing pathways for the virus to spread.
“Even among very old people who are frail and live with multiple chronic conditions, many have a good chance of recovery if they are well-cared for.”
He said that care homes have often been “notoriously neglected” and coronavirus has now shone a “spotlight” on them.
“We must do all we can to ensure that those workers have PPE and other essential supplies to protect themselves and those they care for.”
He has called on an “urgent rethink” into how care homes operate, adding that that care homes should prepare separate spaces for infected patients prior to any first cases happen.
“This means striking a balance between the requirements of residents and their families, and ensuring that services are run safely and staff are protected and well supported.”
He added, “These measures will help cut the spread of the virus, and allow for the managed opening once again of such homes to families and visitors.
“From now on, quality, resourced, strong and sustainable care systems that prioritise people’s needs, and dignity must be our gold standard.
“Commitment from the highest levels of government, across every section of our society is needed.”