Published: 10:33, 27 November 2020
| Updated: 10:35, 27 November 2020
Jacqueline Osborn, who manages St Michael's care home in Westgate-on-Sea, says her workforce will not put their 63 elderly residents at risk of catching Covid.
This comes a day after Kent County Council (KCC) chiefs urged care workers to be "responsible" during their festive celebrations this year.
Jacqueline said: "My staff are responsible and realise they are working with vulnerable residents, but I can’t dictate what they can or can't do out of work.”
The government earlier this week announced that people living in a maximum of three different households will be allowed to meet each other in a social "bubble" from December 23 to December 27 as restrictions begin to ease.
However, parts of Kent still have some of the highest infection rates in the country, notably Swale and Medway.
Thanet is also an outlier with about 493 cases per 100,000 people last week, but the numbers are finally starting to fall.
"They would not do anything to put our residents at risk"
Jacqueline says the pandemic has been a "sharp" learning curve for her 65 members of staff, who are tested each week for coronavirus and have their temperatures regularly checked. There are strict rules over family visitors.
The Margate boss, who has worked at the Elm Grove site for 11 years and cares for residents aged over 65, said: "I consider my staff to be very sensible and caring. They would not do anything to put our residents at risk.
"Everybody is very careful. We have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and wash our hands.
"We may increase the number of tests that we carry out over the Christmas period if there is mixing with families."
However, one Thanet county councillor said she was "very concerned" about the "extremely high" Covid levels across the district and questioned whether measures were being in place to minimise the risk for vulnerable groups.
Speaking to KCC's adult social care committee yesterday, Cllr Liz Hurst (Con), of Birchington, said: "Care home workers are going to be potentially mixing over Christmas. This could have a real impact.
“Are we putting things in place to mitigate that? I understand we can’t look into the future, but it could be a potential hit on us.”
The County Hall committee was told that KCC will be "reviewing" the situation and decide whether they need to provide any further guidance to reduce risks.
At the meeting, Richard Smith, KCC's director for adult social care, said: "While Christmas is really important and I’m not going to become the ‘bah humbug’,it is one day of the year.
"We really do not want to be putting our most vulnerable people, our parents and grandparents at risk over this time.
“I think we will be talking with our providers and partners just to be really careful and that moral social responsibility that we have."
Concluding, he added: "We do not want to come out of that Christmas week and then enter into a longer period of tighter restrictions."