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Channel 5 interview Birtley on Covid-19 testing

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Channel 5 news visited Birtley House yesterday to find out about first hand experiences of failings with the Covid-19 testing system which has become overwhelmed.

Care homes have been prioritised for testing in recent months, and it has also been a fairly easy system to order a test kit online. However, the end of the school holidays prompted many families to seek test kits, causing delays in the system.

As the nations children have gone back to school following the holidays, many are home within their first week and subject to isolation and the need for a test. Due to the demand, the tests now seem simply unavailable, and this was experienced first hand by Channel 5 news reporter Tessa Chapman, who’s child had described symptoms that morning. This meant that both Tessa and her husband had to stay off work and go into isolation. Julian Druker stepped in to interview Simon Whalley, Sinead Whalley and Ilias Rentoulis.

Aside from getting hold of the test kits, even those who do have them aren’t always able to get results back in good time. We are also seeing many return ‘inconclusive’ results, likely because the sample wasn’t tested quick enough before becoming unreliable.

Simon spoke to Julian and covered the issues with the turn around time for Covid-19 test results, some are proving to get lost in the system and some kits are incomplete. If a Resident has symptoms this can be particularly distressing for everyone, as we need to know sooner rather than later. If there is suspicion, Residents go onto an immediate barrier nursing system and on isolation for fourteen days, but not knowing for sure builds up the anxiety and worry of Residents, staff and Resident’s families.

Simon also discussed the wider issues surrounding failures from the government towards care homes, and the fact that if they began to recognise and support the work that we do, they would realise that care homes can actually be utilised by the country to support the NHS. Setting aside funding for the private care sector would dramatically reduce the strain on the NHS, and the overall bill. This is a subject that Simon Whalley continues to battle and raise with various governing bodies through his connections with the Surrey Care Association and Care England.

Our Deputy Manager Ilias backed up what Simon had to say and demonstrated an incomplete test kit to the news reporter. And Resident Liaison Director Sinead spoke to Julian about the things we have been doing to connect families with residents wherever possible, even when they can’t visit.

See the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Wo_bZFyLmU

Birtley House Nursing Home on a beautiful and sunny September morning