A Tayside care worker has said dealing with daily death, chronic under-staffing and PPE shortages have left her and colleagues struggling to cope.
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said the difficulties faced at Monifieth’s South Grange Nursing Home over the past month have left her on the verge of quitting the sector.
She has vowed to remain for the sake of residents but said the pressure is like nothing she has ever faced in her career.
At least 11 residents are known to have died at the home since the start of April, but the home’s owners, Barchester, will not confirm the actual total or how many are suspected to have Covid-19.
The care worker said a minimum of 17 residents have died since April 6, adding she thinks more than 15 carers have tested positive.
Barchester say some of the accusations are “untrue and unfair” and said the home, alongside hundreds of others across the country, is battling a national crisis.
“We usually see a death here, I’d say, on average once every couple of months.
“It’s a daily occurrence now and sometimes worse. One day, there were three in the space of just a few hours.
“It’s horrible and so difficult to deal with. These are people and they have families.
“I dread going to work, especially because I fear spreading the virus without the proper PPE.”
Changing guidelines on protective equipment in homes, as well as a reported national shortage, has been a major issue in recent weeks across the UK.
Unions raised concerns at the start of the month that the Scottish Government had not been clear enough in its guidance.
They said the guidance recommended staff should only wear a mask when the person they were caring for was suspected of having the virus and they would be within two metres of them.
However, the Scottish Government has since made it clear carers should wear masks whenever they feel it is appropriate.
The care worker said: “I think homes have often been able to say they are sticking to the government guidelines but in my opinion, the guidance should be for carers to wear full PPE when with a resident.
“We think it can spread even when someone has no symptoms or just mild symptoms so why take a risk with vulnerable people?
“A manager recently shouted at staff to take off their face masks and said it scares the residents. To me, that is crazy.
“I think residents understand and appreciate why we’d be wearing PPE.
“On another occasion the same apron was re-used by multiple carers when going in and out of a resident’s room. It’s no wonder the virus is spreading so much.”
She added low staffing levels due to self-isolation and sickness is putting even more pressure on remaining workers.
Nearly 20% of homes have flagged up concerns over staffing levels to the industry watchdog since the start of April.
Help is available through NHS nursing support or agency workers via the Care Inspectorate but some homes are still facing shortages.
“We are chronically understaffed,” she said.
“Nobody is left to help residents with basic things like going to the toilet.
“We’re running from room to room but we can’t look after everyone.
“I thought this was a caring industry but it doesn’t feel like that now.”
A spokesperson for Barchester said: “The Courier has outlined a lot of accusations from an anonymous source and it would be wrong of us to comment in detail before an investigation has taken place.
“However we can say that some of the accusations are untrue and unfair. As everyone knows, COVID-19 is a forever changing picture and a very sensitive situation for individuals.
“Every death is a personal tragedy and not everyone wants their family details in the paper.
“We are also acutely aware of the pressure that this media scrutiny can put on our staff, so are trying to manage this in the best way we can.
“It is worth noting that additional senior staff have been supporting the home very closely. COVID-19 is a national crisis and a crisis in our community.
“We would appreciate some support for the home and the people who are working there.”