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Manager of Eaton Lodge Nursing Home in Westgate accuses government of virtually ignoring care industry

A Thanet care home manager says the sector has been treated with a "lack of respect" during the coronavirus crisis.

Maria Kallis, the manager of Eaton Lodge Nursing Home in Westgate, said the industry was "virtually being ignored" by the Government until the Covid-19 death toll rose in April.

Eaton Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Paul Amos
Eaton Lodge Nursing Home. Picture: Paul Amos

Her 28 staff have been reliant on donated personal protective equipment (PPE) stock from charitable members of the community, including masks, visors and gloves. A total of 51 testing kits were ordered from Whitehall three weeks ago, but none have arrived.

Mrs Kallis, who has worked in the sector for 49 years, said: "Care homes have been treated with a lack of respect."

The 68-year-old, whose husband works at Eaton Lodge, added: "We need to be treated much better in the future.

"We are doing a special job here and I want people to be aware that our line of work is just as important as that in hospital.

"We are looking after people's families and provide much personal care. I feel we have been let down by the Government."

Grosvenor Court Care Home
Grosvenor Court Care Home

More than 11,000 people in the UK have died from coronavirus in care homes, including 17 people at Thanet's Grovesnor Court, a 52-bedroom home for residents with special needs based in Cliftonville.

However, there have been no coronavirus cases recorded at Eaton Lodge as the home has taken "every precaution" to minimise transmission of Covid-19 there,Mrs Kallis added.

Daily temperature check ups are taken at the Westgate Bay Avenue site and no visitors have been permitted as the home engaged in "total lockdown" over the last few weeks.

In addition, Mrs Kallis has not allowed residents being discharged from hospitals to return to the care home until they have been tested. Eaton Lodge faced the threat of a "safeguarding notice" from an A&E nurse at Margate's QEQM as a result.

The Margate care home manager said:"I'm proud to say that we have no cases of Covid 19 in our home.

Maria Kallis, manager of Eaton Lodge Nursing Home, pictured, says the sector has been treated with a lack of respect. Picture: Paul Amos
Maria Kallis, manager of Eaton Lodge Nursing Home, pictured, says the sector has been treated with a lack of respect. Picture: Paul Amos

"My staff have been absolutely brilliant. It may be luck, but I know we have taken every precaution.

"Everyone, staff and residents, have their temperatures checked daily."

The lockdown restrictions have been eased this week, including the phased return of primary schools while groups of six people can meet from different households, so long as they stick to two-metre social distancing.

At Eaton Lodge, relatives of residents living there will be allowed to visit the care home from next week.

Mrs Kallis said: "I am hoping to allow limited visits in our garden in the next week, observing the two metre rule, temperatures taken prior to visits, by appointment only, for 30 minutes, initially.

"Questions need to be asked in order to learn from these mistakes in the future."

"No one will be allowed into the home. We have a side entrance leading safely to the garden."

Margate county councillor Barry Lewis (Lab), who represents the area called for a public inquiry into the care home "scandal" last week.

He added: "Questions need to be asked in order to learn from these mistakes in the future. We have a right to know these answers."

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here.

Read more:All the latest news from Thanet.

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