Email to Mrs Murray about Caring for those in care homes with Covid-19

Dear Mrs Murray

My mother is in a care home in __________. She has dementia and I am about to have a discussion with her care providers about what to do if escalation to hospital could be required in the event of her contracting Covid-19 and getting associated breathing difficulties. My mum is otherwise healthy for her age. She is active and could be classed as within the threshold for hospital admission.

However, she would find hospital without a loved one totally terrifying due to her dementia and so that is where the complexity enters the equation. The most humane thing to do, would probably be to keep her in the home even in the event of severe difficulties.

This raises a lot of questions for me and others in a similar position, with elderly relatives in care.

  • Would the appropriate care be available to her in the community? i.e. Would she be given oxygen to ease her breathing and/or would she be given the appropriate medications to give her the best chance of recovery?
  • Are these medications stockpiled in the immediate locality and readily accessible?

Should my mum require palliative treatment:

  • Would palliative medications be available in the community? I have read that dying of pneumonia is like drowning and therefore there are palliative medications that dry up the mucus so that the dying process can be peaceful. Are these medications plentiful in the community and easily accessible?
  • When people die, their organs shut down which again, can be painful. This is normally controlled with syringe drivers and morphine-based pain medications. Can you assure me that these are in plentiful supply and in the community too?

I am reading about the fact that many NHS frontline workers do not have enough Personal Protective equipment. Yesterday I read a letter from Mr Peter Kyle MP to Boris Johnson saying (quite rightly) that care workers caring for those with Covid-19 need full PPE too.

  • Can you assure me that correct level of PPE is going to be provided for care home workers in South East Cornwall?

In order to prevent the virus entering the home in the first place, carers should be tested as a priority along with NHS frontline workers.

  • Can you let me know whether testing of front line care workers is going to happen and when?

On a broader note about testing: Clearly testing is the way out of the lock down we are in whilst protecting the most vulnerable. Please read this short article about the possibility of mass testing and how it makes sense in terms of public health, civil liberates and the economy. We have a poor record in terms of testing and I ask you:

  • Will you ask our government to use this time of lockdown to drastically increase testing capacity?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely

Jane Stevenson