World Health Organization's European director Hans Kluge in a press conference on Thursday revealed that nearly half of the coronavirus deaths in Europe are reported from care home residents. He said if 'frail' elderly people are being well cared for, even they have good chances of recovery.
Since there is a shortage of tests, aged people are not confirmed to have the virus before they die. This leads to missing out the record of nursing home deaths due to coronavirus in official statistics. Deaths of aged people become even more painful as authorities have restricted friends and relatives from visiting nursing homes in many countries.
These residents face a threat of abuse and neglect after no longer able to receive emotional and physical support from their family visits. "According to estimates from countries in the European region, up to half of those who have died from COVID-19 were resident in long-term care facilities," he said.
Hailing care workers are 'unsung heroes of this pandemic'
Kluge said people who have difficulty in following health advice due to disabilities including dementia are more vulnerable to the outbreak. He emphasized on pandemic showing spotlight on care workers who are often been neglected and undervalued in our society. Workers at nursing homes who are overstretched, underpaid and unprotected are the unsung heroes of this pandemic, he said.
Kluge told workers should get appropriate remunerations for working long hours with many difficulties. There is an urgent need to rethink on how care homes operate. "This means striking a balance between the requirements of residents and their families, and ensuring that services are run safely and staff are protected and well supported," he said.
He suggested creating separate wards for coronavirus patients even before the first case takes place in nursing homes. Strong and sustainable care system with quality resources that prioritize aged people's dignity must be our prime concern. And devotion from the highest level of government is needed across every section of our society, he said.