Do you feel that your concerns about the care you receive have been addressed by the new guidance on testing for care staff?

Since we last spoke, fortunately there have been some improvements.

I am seeing more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on the carers who are coming into my home. The number of different carers visiting me has also decreased so I am in contact with fewer different people. As I get to know the carers I gain more confidence in them; I feel confident that they wouldn’t knowingly be putting me at risk. Their awareness of infection spread has heightened, and the staff now take an online course on infection control.

The PPE is evidence that their employers and the Government are taking things more seriously. It can be challenging when people come into your home and you want to keep yourself safe; you don’t want to seem too demanding on people who have been working in social care for many years and should know how to keep you safe.

It can be challenging when people come into your home and you want to keep yourself safe; you don’t want to seem too demanding on people who have been working in social care for many years and should know how to keep you safe.

Do you have any outstanding concerns about your care and safety which have not been addressed so far?

I think the Government is moving in the right direction as fast as they possibly can. In theory the fact that people are now entitled to testing if they have symptoms is a move in the right direction. I haven’t used this service, but if I do I hope some of the issues with it have been resolved.

However, I still live with a number of concerns. A couple of weeks ago I was self-isolating because someone who had treated me in my home had been told to self-isolate. Until I had that scare I was happy having my exercise and going to my local shop, but during that time my anxiety levels were very high. I am now too scared to go out because I am aware of the prevalence of the disease close by in areas such as Middlesbrough. I would like to see the peak for the north of the country go down, although for the time being the measures here, like the rest of the country, have been eased.

Another one of the things I am questioning still is this: we hear about coronavirus in care homes and a bit about it in domiciliary care, about PPE problems, about financial concerns of companies providing domiciliary care and the cost of keeping safe – but why does there seem to be a lack of coverage in the media about the level of disease for people giving domiciliary care or receiving domiciliary care? Is anyone collating this data and will there ever be an answer to this?

What are your thoughts about the Government’s Care Badge and their commitment to enhance the ‘brand of social care’?

The badge is sort of encouraging, while also being a bit tokenistic, but I support anything which gives social care workers respect. However, I have been troubled by figures from social care unions on the number of care workers on zero hours contracts and not getting the living minimum wage. With carers facing financial issues because they are being poorly paid, I am concerned that those who have symptoms might feel they have to continue to go to work as they can’t afford to only be left with Statutory Sick Pay.

Do you think that social care is now getting the attention that it deserves?

While I follow the news about social care at the moment carefully, I have been even more impacted by what I hear from people I know in challenging situations. I know one friend in a care home which received someone from hospital with coronavirus, who came to die on compassionate grounds. There was a spread of infection in the residents, and one of the staff was ill for several weeks.

I am friends with another carer who was working in a care home and became sick five days after treating someone with coronavirus; she ended up in hospital, her heart stopped, and she needed resuscitation, but she now seems to be recovering. I have been calling her to check how she is and sometimes she has still been feeling too weak to speak over the phone.

I am lucky that in these cases, people seem to have survived but there are many people who have lost loved ones. While the Government are making important steps, there is still a way to go and crucially, we have to remember to credit our social care system at the end of this.

Anne wanted to remain anonymous.

Next steps

During the coronavirus pandemic, Independent Age is calling on the Government to ensure all older people are able to access the high-quality care they need. This includes vital care delivered within individual’s own homes as well as residential care. Maintaining a high level of care in these environments is imperative to ensuring the safety of people as they get older.   

You can help us improve the care system by joining Independent Age’s online campaign network. We’ll keep you updated on our activities and how you can get involved.