As the UK recorded an incredible 46,169 new coronavirus cases at the beginning of the week, you could be forgiven for thinking that things are now worse than they were during the very first spike.
However, this ignores the impact of the three coronavirus vaccines that have been approved in the UK, with two of these having already been rolled out to the most vulnerable recipients nationwide.
This includes care home residents, who infamously became incredibly vulnerable during the first wave of cases. In this case, we’ll explore the vaccine rollout in further detail, while asking why care home residents continue to dominate the attentions of the NHS.
The coronavirus vaccine: A growing success story
The vaccine rollout has certainly proved to be a success so far, with an estimated 2.6 million doses having been administered to around 2.3 million people nationwide.
This includes nearly a quarter of all care home residents throughout the UK, and this represents a significant step given the challenges that faced this sector at the outset of the global pandemic.
More specifically, it’s thought that Covid-19 was implicated in 29.3% of all care home resident deaths in the period between March 2nd and June 12th, accounting for 19,394 out of 66,112 fatalities in total.
In Northern Ireland alone, almost 10,000 care home residents have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the coronavirus, while a total of 25,623 health and social care staff members have also received their initial jab.
This is in addition to the rollout of the slightly more accessible Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been given to an estimated 11,260 care home employees so far.
In this respect, Northern Ireland appears to be blazing a trail for the remainder of the UK to follow, with vaccination teams having visited 439 of the 483 care homes located across the length and breadth of the country.
How care homes moved to the centre of the global pandemic
Ultimately, the government has been compelled to prioritise care home residents and staff when rolling out its various vaccines, with the hope that all 224,000 patients will be fully vaccinated by the end of January in the UK.
While this will go a long way towards safeguarding some of the UK’s most vulnerable individuals, it’s important to recognise the role that individual care homes have played in combating the virus.
Even as the death toll mounted and the care home sector shifted to the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic last year, some locations minimised the impact of Covid-19 with bold and proactive decision making.
Thornton Manor in Chester took the early decision to go into lockdown last year, for example, protecting residents while ensuring that they retain access to physical therapy.
A number of South West Care Homes located across the globe took a similarly proactive approach before the pandemic had even reached these shores, liaising with the loved ones of patients and implementing a de facto lockdown before the month of March.
Care homes have also been forced to cope with the rising cost of insurance, which has spiralled since the pandemic began.
According to some sources, the cost of care insurance increased by 20% on average during the Covid-19 outbreak, while some providers were also likely to invalidate coverage in instances where homes did not follow the guidance on PPE.
While care homes have been able to negate this issue by ensuring that adequate PPE is available throughout, they’re also continuing to work closely with the government to cope with the fast-evolving nature of the marketplace.