Published: 06:00, 20 May 2020
Thirteen people with learning disabilities have made a full recovery after Covid-19 spread through a specialist care facility.
The outbreak at Cedar House, in Barham near Canterbury, saw more than a third of its residents struck down with the virus - with some requiring hospital treatment for breathing difficulties.
Split across five bungalows, Cedar House cares for men and women with mental health disorders, learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions and complex needs.
Many of its patients have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of the coronavirus, but do not understand, or are not able to communicate changes in how they are feeling.
When the coronavirus pandemic began, staff at the site began closely monitoring residents and taking their temperatures regularly, in the hope of catching symptoms early.
On March 27, the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed.
Although staff were quick to isolate symptomatic patients, the virus spread through the site and over the following 11 days, a total of 13 residents became infected.
All 13, aged between 30 and 50, tested positive for Covid-19 when a mobile testing unit was sent to Cedar House.
Some experienced severe problems with their breathing which left them needing treatment at the William Harvey Hospital, where they stayed for several days, accompanied by Cedar House staff.
But to the delight of their families, all 13 patients have now made a full recovery.
Matty, whose brother has a brain injury and learning disabilities and is a resident at Cedar House, was among those left fearing for a loved one after his brother contracted the virus.
"My uncle was very ill with Covid-19 when I got the news that my brother had been diagnosed with the virus, making it a really worrying time," he said.
"My brother can’t communicate clearly how feels due to his learning disabilities, but the staff were quick to notice his symptoms and diagnose him with Covid-19."
But Matty was "delighted" when his brother made a full recovery, and was able to come out of isolation in time for his birthday.
He and his family have thanked staff at Cedar House for the care they provided throughout the scary ordeal.
"This is a huge relief for my family, especially as my uncle tragically lost his life to the virus," he said.“The staff at Cedar House have remained as committed as ever to delivering the highest quality of care to residents.
“Their exceptional care and swift actions saved my brother’s life and meant he was well to celebrate his birthday, and for that I can’t thank them enough."
Emma Harrison, hospital director at Cedar House, has also praised her team for their handling of the situation.
She said: “The Covid-19 outbreak has put unprecedented pressure on our staff.
"Caring for residents who are at higher risk of the virus but often can’t recognise or tell us about changes in their health, we’ve been extra vigilant, acting on any potential signs of Covid-19 as early as possible to keep all of our residents and staff safe.
“We are so delighted all 13 of our residents who have had Covid-19 have made a full recovery, and it’s a true testament to the unfaltering dedication and commitment of our staff who are pulling together and going above and beyond at this extremely challenging time. I am hugely proud of them.”
More by this authorLydia Chantler-Hicks