Care Homes in COVID: Did We Abandon The Elderly? | By Vikrant Sharma

Care Homes in COVID: Did We Abandon The Elderly? 

By Vikrant Sharma 

Founder-Editor, The Global Telescope 


Over the last few decades, nursing homes have become a popular choice in Europe for elderly people who require medical assistance. Modern care homes serve as the residential facility and social space for the people who live there, along with providing them basic medical assistance via the nurses and other healthcare staff employed by the care homes.

When COVID-19 struck Europe, the immediate attention was put on hospitals that were being overwhelmed by the number of incoming patients who required isolation as well as immediate and intensive treatment. European countries quickly realised, however, that care homes were a particular area of concern.

You see, care homes are not just a living facility. To ensure that the senior residents do not get lonely, these facilities also serve as social spaces that facilitate physical and social contact between various residents. You probably see the problem by now; a social space for seniors with underlying health ailments, which thus makes it a disaster scenario for COVID-19.

Care homes have seen a devastatingly large number of deaths in the last two months. Early statistics of COVID mortality in many European countries were only counting hospital deaths, and only later started to add care home deaths into the count. This shot up the number of deaths and revealed the true scope of the problem. Even then, there were reports that the count of care home deaths was not accurate- The Guardian recently reported that about half of COVID-19 deaths in UK (one of the worst hit countries around the world) are believed to be in care homes, with doubts being cast on the actual number being underreported so far.[1]

Sweden was one of the countries with the fewest restrictions imposed during this crisis. It encouraged its citizens to practice social distancing but did not impose severe lockdown restrictions seen in various other EU member-states. While Sweden has fortunately not been among the worst-hit countries in Europe, with 33,188 cases so far at the time of publication, it has had a high mortality rate with 3992 deaths at the time of publication.[2] This has raised a question- did Sweden put its most vulnerable citizens at risk in order to avoid a lockdown? Euronews has reported that more than ¾ deaths in Sweden have been in care homes. Being an export-heavy country, half of Sweden’s GDP is based on export. Because of this, Sweden is expected to experience a sharp drop in its economy even though it resisted a severe lockdown. The answer to the success of this strategy can only, of course, be answered by Swedish citizens.

Here are some more grim statistics to highlight the issue. In Pio Albergo Trivulzio, one of the biggest care homes in Europe located in Milan, 200 out of the 1000 residents have died since the start of the health crisis (a criminal investigation into this is underway). At La Providence Saint Christophe care home in Belgium, the army has had to be called in to assist. More than 75% of the residents and 51% of the staff had tested positive, and the army was then called in to assist. 17 out of the 128 residents in the care home died during the first few weeks of the crisis.[3]

All of this raises a sombre picture for the residents of the care homes. But what about the staff? The staff of such care homes often develops a close, almost familial, relationship with the residents. While many staff members in care homes across Europe suffer from COVID-19 contracted at the job, many are also suffering from devastating mental effects of dealing with the crisis. Having to deal with the death of multiple residents and the handling of their dead bodies has had a crushing effect on the mental health of many staff members. The COVID reality for care homes workers is also extremely grim.

Many voices have spoken out against the lack of equipment provided to care home staff during the crisis, as well as lack of care for the health of the residents. UK’s justice secretary recently admitted to Sky News that the UK government had prioritised NHS and the hospitals as a conscious decision to do so was taken, to the detriment of other sectors including care homes.[4]

While governments continue to be admonished by the media and certain organisations, voices have also spoken out against the owners of care homes. Care homes in Europe are owned by a few large private groups, often run by investment or pension funds. Eileen Chubb, founder and Directior of Compassion in Care, claims that the sector puts profit over safety. She says that it is outrageous that these companies made billions in profit earlier and are now saying they could not have foreseen this crisis and bought protective equipment for their staff.[5]

The elderly in our society are not a burden; they are an invaluable asset. People in power who treat them as a burden shall eventually have to face the public who certainly disagree.

Captain Tom Moore, soon to be knighted for his contribution, raised 33 million pounds by taking 100 laps of his garden over 100 days to raise money for the NHS in UK. A World War 2 veteran, he recently turned 100 years old. Ex-Private Ashiteye Hammond from Ghana, a 95-year-old World War 2 veteran, has raised 500,000 pounds for charities that will help frontline workers by walking 14 kilometres over a week.[6] Richard Leigh, a 58-year-old gentleman with multiple sclerosis, is walking a mile a day with his walker to raise awareness and funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Norfolk which he says is at risk of closing due to lockdown restrictions.[7]

Such stories of inspiration are only possible because the people in our society respect the elderly. These events fill me with hope and prove the importance we hold for the senior members of our community who deserve such admiration.

It is our duty to serve and assist the elderly in our society- to protect them. For if we can’t even do that, then humankind is as a whole has to hang its head in shame. I hope we will do better for them then we have done so far during this health emergency.


Note From The Writer- Call an older person in your life today and ask them how they are doing. Many senior members of our community are facing loneliness during this crisis. Call someone today to remind them that they are not alone- your grandparents, a neighbour, anyone. Thank you :)

[1] James Tapper, CQC under fire from care home body for failing to report true death toll to ministers, The Guardian (24 May 2020)

[2] COVID-19 situation update worldwide, as of 25 May 2020, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

[3] Valérie Gauriat, The deadly impact of COVID-19 on Europe's care homes, Euronews (14 May 2020)

[4] Coronavirus: 'We did decide to focus on NHS' says justice secretary, Sky News (20 May 2020)

[5] Valérie Gauriat, The deadly impact of COVID-19 on Europe's care homes, Euronews (14 May 2020)

[6] Dibie Ike Michael & Peter Adattor, Covid-19: Ghanaian World War 2 veteran in virus fundraising, Africanews (23 May 2020)

[7] Ruth Lawes, Man with multiple sclerosis walks mile day after Captain Tom Moore inspiration, Norwich Evening News (25 May 2020)


  1. 👍👌Commendable grasp of the facts as well as it was a compassionate write up!;the most strikingly empathetic moment of the inspiring blog was when the writer says that the elderly are 'not a burden on the caregivers but an asset's.

  2. Writing a blog post is really important for growth of your websites. Thanks for sharing amazing tips. we also provide disabled care home east Sussex. for more information visit on our website.


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