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Panorama special follows coronavirus tragedy in Pelham House, Folkestone

A care home has opened up on the tragic events that saw half of their residents killed by coronavirus in a heartbreaking TV special.

Pelham House in Folkestone is one of two homes to feature in an hour-long Panorama special entitled ‘The Forgotten Frontline’

Pelham House care home lost half of their residents to coronavirus. Picture: Pelham House
Pelham House care home lost half of their residents to coronavirus. Picture: Pelham House

BBC1’s flagship current affairs programme, which aired last night, spent two months filming at the home, along with another care home in Manchester.

The coronavirus crisis saw Pelham lose 10 of their 20 residents in the space of a few weeks after the virus spread to 18 residents, forcing nine staff to self isolate.

The home's owner and general manager, Roger Waluube, had said that the situation left staff "desperate" and "stretched to their absolute limits".

He said: "Normally, we may lose three or four residents during a whole year.

"We were looking at the end of Pelham House and its role as a well-loved care home and its place in the community.

"There was no evidence of a 'protective ring' being put around care homes as promised..."

“Our staff were working 12-hour shifts in three-day cycles and stretched to their absolute limits, physically and emotionally – as were care home staff across the country.

"But we just did not receive the support from the government which was promised, certainly in the early stages when we were desperate to get hold of personal protective equipment, which simply was not available.

“And there was no evidence of a ‘protective ring’ being put around care homes as promised by [Health Minister] Matt Hancock in April.”

The Panorama Special, which is available on BBC iPlayer for the next year, comes after a report by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee that said the care sector “had been thrown to the wolves”.

The report accuses the Government of being ‘slow, inconsistent, and at times negligent’ towards social care during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Roger Waluube said staff were "pushed to their absolute limits". Picture: Pelham House
Roger Waluube said staff were "pushed to their absolute limits". Picture: Pelham House

Mr Waluube had previously spoken out against the government's handling of care homes after it was revealed a resident was discharged back to the home before receiving the results of his positive test.

The resident, a 96-year-old veteran, had been returned from the emergency department of the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

The home has been virus-free since early July, and is desperately looking at how it can recover and rebuild its previously excellent reputation among its residents, friends and families and the local community.

A crowdfunding appeal has been set up, and details can be found here.

'The Forgotten Frontline' aired last night.

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