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‘I want to see my dad’: Daughter of 95-year-old in care scheme makes plea for regular testing

PUBLISHED: 13:01 21 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:43 21 November 2020

Annette James and her 95-year-old father, Owen James. Photo: Annette James

Annette James and her 95-year-old father, Owen James. Photo: Annette James

Annette James

Pleas for regular testing in housing with care schemes have been made, after the daughter of a 95-year-old man expressed concern after staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

Annette James and her 95-year-old father, Owen James. Photo: Annette JamesAnnette James and her 95-year-old father, Owen James. Photo: Annette James

Annette James, from Wymondham, says housing with care facilities have been “overlooked” by the government, as elderly tenants who are the most vulnerable, and the staff caring for them, have been left without regular testing.

Housing with care is an alternative to residential care, allowing the tenant to retain their independence in their own self-contained flat - under a rental arrangement with a registered social landlord - while care and support is available 24 hours a day.

Her father, Owen James, 95, has been living at Robert Kett Court, in Wymondham, with care provided by NorseCare, for the last two years.

But as the town has been revealed as having one of the highest Covid rates in the country, and two staff members tested positive for the virus, Ms James is now unable to see her father and said “now more than ever” regular, on-site testing needs to be made available at these care facilities.

The 60-year-old said: “If you live in a residential care home, carers are regularly tested. They don’t have to phone up to get tests. It happens at the place of work.

“Because my dad is within a housing with care facility, it is not classified by the government as being eligible for regular testing.

“From what I can understand the government keeps saying they will give assisted living facilities the same access, but that hasn’t happened. So, for a lot of people, it means they are in total isolation.

“I want to see my dad but I can’t - it’s heart breaking.

“But Norse care have done a wonderful job given the circumstances and the carers at Robert Kett are second to none.”

A spokesman for NorseCare, who provide care and support to over 600 people living within 15 housing with care schemes in Norfolk, explained that two staff members from Robert Kett Court recently took Covid-19 tests and received positive results and have been self-isolating.

They said: “NorseCare maintains the highest standards on infection control and strictly follows all relevant Government guidance within its care homes and within housing with care schemes.

“We are assured to hear that the care and support offered to this family by NorseCare staff has had such a positive impact, during what have been challenging months in care homes and housing with care schemes up and down the country.

“The team at Robert Kett Court – and all of our settings – continue to work tirelessly to keep our tenants, residents and staff as safe as we possibly can.”

A spokesman from Norfolk County Council, which provides care through NorseCare, said the prioritising of testing is a decision made by the Department of Health and Social Care, but Pillar 2 testing has been available in Wymondham.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We set out actions in our Adult Social Care Winter Plan to protect everyone in the care system from Covid-19 through free PPE and access to additional testing including in extra care and supported living settings that have been deemed high risk.

“We are working closely with Directors of Public Health to identify all eligible settings and encourage anyone who is eligible to reach out to their local authority.

“We will continue to work closely with SAGE and PHE to identify priority areas, increase our testing capacity, develop new technologies and reach more people.”

Ms James added: “The general public does not realise this is happening and I want to raise awareness of it. I think it is scandalous and yet again the elderly are losing out.

“We need to get regular testing within all housing with care scheme facilities.

“Wymondham is a real hot a spot at the moment, so it makes it even more important.”

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