Care home company under investigation following multiple COVID deaths, says UNISON

UNISON reports Horizon Care to the Care Quality Commission after residents die in Sheffield

A major social care company has been reported to regulators after the deaths of multiple residents from COVID-19, says UNISON today (Thursday).

The three homes in Sheffield, where the deaths occurred and are run by Horizon Care, are now under investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after staff raised a catalogue of safety and hygiene concerns with UNISON.

The union has written to the CQC outlining practices at Woodhill House, Woodhill Lodge and Woodhill Grange, which UNISON says breach safety guidelines for residents and staff.

Issues highlighted to UNISON by employees include managers asking care workers with persistent coughs and staff who live with people infected with coronavirus to carry on coming in to work.

Care employees sent 12-week isolation letters were told they could work as long as they did not carry out personal care duties, such as helping to wash residents.

Other practices the union says are unsafe include failing to inform staff that residents they look after have suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

In one case, a manager who had ‘better things to do’ refused to test residents despite one dying from the virus.

Many workers in the three homes run by Horizon Care said they had no access to personal protection equipment (PPE) because kit has been locked away in an office. Some have resorted to bringing in their own antibacterial hand gel.

UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “All employers have an obligation to protect staff and the people they look after. Horizon Care has clearly failed in its duties.

“This case highlights the urgent need for the government to reform the social care sector. The fact it’s fragmented and underfunded means unscrupulous employers are able to exploit staff.

“Unless action is taken some care companies will continue to fall short of the high standards required.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON has launched a petition demanding the government step up and deliver on its promises around PPE and do much more to protect care staff and elderly people.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

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