Almost 20,000 care home residents have died with coronavirus – ONS

Jemma Crew and Ian Jones, PA
·4-min read

Almost 20,000 care home residents in England and Wales have died with coronavirus, the majority dying in their care home, official figures show.

Death certificates for 19,394 residents mentioned “novel coronavirus” between March 2 and June 12, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Covid-19 accounted for 29% of the deaths of care home residents over this period and a fifth of all deaths of care home residents this year.

The latest data includes all care home residents who died with coronavirus either at their care home or in hospital.

This pushes the overall care home resident death figure 32% higher than the 14,658 deaths in care homes reported by the ONS on Tuesday.

Three-quarters (74.9%) of residents died in their care home, a quarter (24.8%) died in hospital, while 65 residents, representing 0.3% of the total, died in a separate location such as a private home or hospice.

HEALTH Coronavirus ONS
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There has been a slowdown in the number of overall deaths and those involving Covid-19 in care home residents since mid-April, the ONS said.

There have also been 819 deaths involving Covid-19 of people receiving domiciliary care between April 10 and June 19, according to Care Quality Commission data.

There were 6,523 deaths from all causes over this period of people receiving care in their own home – 3,628 deaths more than the average over the past three years.

Separately, a survey looking at infection in more than 9,000 care homes in England between May 26 and June 20 estimates that more than half (56%) of the care homes have had at least one confirmed case of coronavirus.

Some 5,126 care homes responded to the Vivaldi study, commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and estimates were produced by weighting the actual responses to take account of the care homes which did not respond.

Some 20% of residents and 7% of staff are estimated to have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, as reported by care home managers.

The results differ from the latest Public Health England statistics, which state that 43% of care homes in England have had an outbreak, defined as two or more suspected or confirmed cases.

The authors estimate that, of the total, 93% offer sick pay to their staff, 12% have staff who work in more than one location, and 44% do not employ any bank or agency staff.

The vast majority (97%) said they have been closed to visitors during the pandemic, while almost a fifth (19%) have not accepted new admissions.

Leading cause of death for care home residents since coronavirus outbreak began
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For each additional member of infected staff working in the care home, the odds of residents becoming infected rose 11%.

And residents in care homes which employed bank and agency staff most days or every day were 58% more likely to become infected than those who never used them.

Staff working in care homes where staff regularly work elsewhere were more than twice as likely to be infected compared with those in homes where staff did not work in other places.

The ONS figures show that Covid-19 was the leading cause of death across the period for male care home residents across all age groups, accounting for a third (33.5%) of all deaths, followed by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (24.7%).

For female care home residents, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was the leading cause of death (33.8% of deaths), followed by Covid-19 (26.6%).

Covid-19 mortality rates for male care home residents were higher – with 1,580.5 deaths per 100,000 male care home residents compared to 929.4 deaths per 100,000 female care home residents.

HEALTH Coronavirus ONS
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Dementia and Alzheimer disease was also the most common pre-existing health condition in deaths involving Covid-19.

For all leading causes of death, there were more deaths in care homes in 2020 in comparison with the same period in 2019.

A DHSC spokesman said: “Every death is a tragedy, and our deepest sympathies go out to everyone who have lost loved ones.

“We have been doing everything we can to ensure care home residents and staff are protected during this unprecedented global pandemic and the Vivaldi 1 study has proved invaluable as we further build on our understanding of this virus.

“We announced today that we will be rolling out repeat testing for care home staff and residents across the country from Monday, to help further reduce the spread of infection in care homes.”