‘No drastic changes any time soon’ - care homes uphold restrictions as lockdown rules alter

PUBLISHED: 06:30 13 May 2020

Dorrington House, Dereham. Pictured are owners Steve and Lorraine Dorrington. Picture: Ian Burt

Dorrington House, Dereham. Pictured are owners Steve and Lorraine Dorrington. Picture: Ian Burt

Care homes in Dereham say little will change in response to the government’s new lockdown guidance, but warned there are still challenges ahead.

Although Office for National Statistics data released on Tuesday showed 77 Norfolk care home residents died after contracting coronavirus between April 10 and May 8, many homes around the county remain free of the disease.

Steve Dorrington, owner of Dorrington House care home on Quebec Road in Dereham, said: “There’s been no cases of the virus among the 45 residents here and all staff are still in work.”

And despite the changes announced on Sunday, including regarding cross-household interaction if outside in a public space, he said visitors will remain banned.

“I am sympathetic to loved ones who may want to see their family members outside at a two-metre distance, and we are looking into ways that this could work, but people have to understand that risks are present even with this approach,” he said. “There will be no drastic changes any time soon.”

Dorrington House Care Homeon Quebec Road in Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.Dorrington House Care Homeon Quebec Road in Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

At Whitstone House on Norwich Road, the situation is similar.

Tommy Copsey, deputy manager, said there “hadn’t been an inkling” of a case in the home, and that staff would be working to keep it that way.

The home, which cares for both elderly and autistic residents, usually allows people to go out or visit family on weekends.

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However, staff came to the decision on Tuesday that this practice would not yet resume.

Mr Copsey said: “Families have been very understanding at this time, and we are concerned that any more disruption to routine, even in light of the government’s most recent announcement, would be harmful for our residents. Visitors will also remain banned for the moment.

“Instead, we have the Norfolk Opportunity Centre attached to the home, which has been our residents’ lifeline in place of the daily walks and activities they were used to before lockdown.”

In terms of upcoming challenges, many care homes said the main one lay in the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE).

John Rose, one of the managers at Merle Boddy Care Home on Norwich Road, said: “We’re starting to lose a bit of patience with just how expensive PPE stocks are. We’re currently paying £65 for 50 basic three-ply masks.”

Merle Boddy House on Norwich Road, Dereham. Picture: ArchantMerle Boddy House on Norwich Road, Dereham. Picture: Archant

The same is true for Dorrington House and Whitstone House.

Mr Dorrington said that many of their ordered stock is either late or not turning up at all.

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