Covid outbreak at Woodford Green care home delays vaccinations

Harts House care home in Woodford Green

Harts House care home in Woodford Green - Credit: Photoshot

More than half the residents at a care home in Woodford Green have been struck down with Covid – and still don’t know when they will be vaccinated. 

There have been 32 cases of the virus since October at Harts House, in Harts Grove, resulting in the deaths of three residents. 

The nursing home, which is run by Bupa and rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), houses up to 61 people was "pencilled in” to have residents vaccinated on Saturday (January 9). 

But the outbreak prompted a local GP to cancel their visit as guidelines say the jab should not be administered to anyone who either has the virus or has had it in the past four weeks. 

There are currently still 16 residents with positive Covid tests, while other residents face an anxious wait to wait to be told a new date for their vaccinations. 

One person, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Recorder they haven’t seen their grandmother, a £1,600-a-week resident at the home, since the first national lockdown in March. 

They said: “You would have thought Bupa would have had a plan in place to vaccinate the residents as early as possible but it seems not to have been the case.  

Most Read

“We contacted Redbridge Council, to ask them about vaccines and who is looking out for my nan’s safety, once we heard of one person with Covid at the home but they never responded. 

“I cannot understand how there can be a vaccination centre at James Hawkey Hall, so close to Harts House, which able-bodied people could attend but they couldn’t go to the home on the same day.  

“These have been taking place for a few weeks now.” 

They added that every member of staff turning up at Harts House to care for residents, despite the large-scale coronavirus outbreak, “deserves a medal”. 

Vaccinations for people in care homes began on December 21. 

A spokesperson for Bupa said, of the three residents who have died from Covid, two had underlying health conditions and one was already receiving end-of-life care before their positive test result.

Arranging a new date for vaccinations is a matter for NHS England, they said.

It is also understood that the majority of the 16 residents who have the virus are not displaying symptoms. 

Paul Torrance, regional director for Harts House, said: “Thanks to the hard work of our colleagues, Harts House has been Covid-clear through previous phases of the pandemic.  

“In line with rising national figures, we have recently seen an increase in resident cases, though many aren’t showing any symptoms.  

“The team is using full PPE and ensuring everyone gets the care they need. As a result, many residents have already returned to good health.”  

Bupa added that it continues to follow strict advice from Public Health England and has carried out several deep cleans across the home. 

Questions were also raised when an entry code for a room where confidential records are kept was found scribbled on a wall, next to the door.

The code has now been removed and records are stored in locked filing cabinets, the spokesperson confirmed.

The healthcare group’s regional support manager Sam Ndlovu sent the families of residents a letter on Tuesday (January 12), informing them Harts House is now closed to external visitors. 

The letter read: “To prevent the spread of infection, the residents affected is [sic] receiving expert care within their own bedroom, from a small dedicated team using PPE.” 

He added that Covid-positive staff are isolating “away from the home” and that Bupa will test all residents and staff, informing families of the results. 

A source close to the home said, apart from seeing family members through a window or in a ‘pod’ subject to an appointment when restrictions were relaxed, no visitors have been allowed since March. 

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said it was aware of the outbreak and was assisting the care home to look after residents. 

He said: “All staff who have been identified as positive from the care home are currently self-isolating at home, as per the national guidelines.  

"We're currently using the existing guidelines and supporting the home to deliver the required Infection Prevention and Control measures, including a deep clean of the premises.  

“We will continue to review these measures as part of the management of the outbreak.”