Urgent investigation launched after care home used staff with Covid to look after residents


Council chiefs have rejected claims a private care home specialising in dementia care was “abandoned” during a staffing crisis – forcing Covid-infected workers to look after residents.

The owner of the Caledonia home at Holyhead, Anglesey, where 11 of the 12 residents have coronavirus, said it only “survived” the weekend because two employees who had also tested positive for Covid agreed to work the night shift.

With so many workers off ill or self-isolating, there would have been no night staff otherwise, and only three day staff, no cleaners and only one cook.

The Welsh Government is now investigating what happened “as a matter of urgency” and a multi-agency Incident Management Team has been convened to manage the outbreak.

READ MORE: Fears new ‘Covid Mu’ variant found in Wales may be vaccine-resistant

The Caledonia, whose residents are all double vaccinated, is now in lockdown, unable to accept any more residents and closed to visitors until September 29.

On Wednesday, North Wales Live reported how owner Ann Bedford, who has run the home since 1987, said even before Covid hit residential homes were struggling to recruit.

“Now there is absolutely no spare capacity in the system, nowhere to turn”, she said.

“I have never known a situation as bad as we faced over the last weekend. As a matter of course we have contingency plans in place to cope in emergencies but even these buckled under the strain. My heart sinks when I think about for the weeks and months ahead.

“We felt abandoned and alone. I called on social services for help but they were facing their own emergencies. The shortage of carers on Anglesey is at dangerous levels and is being intensified by the pandemic.”

Ann Bedford outside Caledonia residential care home, Holyhead
Ann Bedford outside Caledonia residential care home in Holyhead

Anglesey council agreed the care sector and local authorities across the whole of Wales is facing recruitment challenges, which have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

But a spokesman said today: “Decisions in respect of emergency care provision at the Caledonia have been taken in the best interest of residents.

“We would reject claims that this private care home was abandoned.

“Our officers, together with colleagues in health, have worked very closely with Ms Bedford to respond to her staffing shortages since this issue was brought to our attention.

“Our staff and those from health have worked to identify shift cover at the Caledonia until the weekend ensuring that residents do not have to leave their home. We have provided a great deal of support during what is an extremely challenging period for all involved and will continue to do so.”

Menai Bridge taken from Church Island

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The Welsh Government said it was “concerned” staff had been asked to work despite testing positive for Covid.

A spokesman said: “We are looking into the circumstances as a matter of urgency.

“We continue to support the sector at this difficult time and have provided local authorities with £50m of additional funding to help deal with these staffing challenges.

“We are also working with unions, providers and local government through the Social Care Fair Work Forum, to improve the working conditions of social care workers and we have a national social care recruitment campaign currently running to increase the workforce.”

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