Heartbreaking reports from the front line: Amid fears the number of coronavirus deaths in care homes is much higher than official statistics suggest, relatives of four victims reveal the agony of their loss
- Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze ‘lost her life doing the job she loved’, a friend said
- An 86-year-old died at a home where managers reported a shortage of masks
- A retired NHS carer died in the hospital where she used to work, her family said
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze ‘lost her life doing the job she loved’, a friend said yesterday.
The 44-year-old self-isolated after showing symptoms of coronavirus but had to be taken to hospital and put on a ventilator as her condition deteriorated.
The married mother-of-two, pictured, died earlier this month at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.
Her husband Kenneth, 45, said she had understood the risks of continuing her job after the coronavirus outbreak began but had wanted to carry on working.
Mrs Sazuze, who was originally from Malawi in Africa, trained and worked at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton before starting work at a care home in Cannock, Staffordshire.
Mr Sazuze, who is training to be a nurse, said he was not allowed to see his wife of 24 years after she was admitted to hospital.
Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze ‘lost her life doing the job she loved’, a friend said yesterday
But she called him just before she was put on the ventilator. ‘She started telling me, “Ken, if I don’t come back, be strong, I love you, be strong for the kids”,’ he told the BBC.
‘I was like, “no, no, no, don’t tell me that. I don’t want you to start telling me that in a negative way… we will be all right.”
‘She said, “I’m just telling you in case”.’
She understood the risks of working on the front line but was happy to help people, he added.
Family friend William Fungatira said: ‘Elsie was a naturally quiet person but very caring, friendly, cheerful and resilient.
‘She had a passion to always help others. She was dedicated to helping people. It’s a great loss to all of us who knew her and, indeed, to the wider community because she lost her life doing the job she loved.’
It’s been a harrowing and lonely battle with no help
Nicola Richards, 46, who runs Palms Row Healthcare, said she has been ‘pulled apart’ by the illness, which is tearing through her facilities
The manager of three care homes where 11 residents have died from Covid-19 has said she is fighting a ‘harrowing and lonely’ battle against the virus.
Nicola Richards, 46, pictured right, who runs Palms Row Healthcare, said she has been ‘pulled apart’ by the illness, which is tearing through her facilities.
A quarter of the Sheffield homes’ 200 residents are infected, 30 staff have also tested positive and one nurse is in intensive care.
‘It’s another one and another one and another one’, she said. ‘I’m not getting to sleep. I’ve not switched off. I can’t describe the stress.’
Mrs Richards said the mental health of her residents is deteriorating because they have to be kept in their rooms and can’t receive visitors.
‘How do you explain to elderly residents that their wife or daughter isn’t coming to see them today? I have residents crying because they can’t see their loved ones.
‘If we’ve got residents who are dying we’ve been told people can’t come and see them – only one visitor is allowed. It is soul-destroying.
‘They’re at the end of life and seeing workers in masks – it’s just so clinical.’
The mother-of-two added: ‘I’m trying to keep staff morale but it’s really tough …a lonely journey. I feel like I’ve had no support from the authorities. We have only had one PPE delivery. The lack of awareness has been something else.
‘Our elderly have been forgotten. It’s like we’re the bottom of the pecking order. I’ve got to hope lessons are learnt. It’s just been so dark.’
Staff had begged the public to give masks
An 86-year-old great-grandfather died at a care home where managers had reported a shortage of face masks.
Reg Amison passed away at the Bradwell Hall nursing home last month, after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Days earlier the home in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, had appealed for donations of face masks from the public because its stocks were low and suppliers were unable to confirm delivery dates.
At least one member of staff has tested positive for the coronavirus and several others have gone into self-isolation.
Mr Amison’s son Robert, 58, called on the Government to improve access to protective equipment and virus testing for care home workers.
Reg Amison passed away at the Bradwell Hall nursing home last month, after testing positive for the coronavirus
He told the Daily Mail: ‘The staff had almost no equipment to stop the disease spreading.
‘I’m not blaming the home, they looked after my dad really, really well. But the Government should be ramping up testing, and frontline nurses and carers should get tested first.’
Mr Amison said it was ‘heart-breaking’ that he and his mother Dorothy, 83, (pictured with Reg) had not been able to visit his father before his death.
He said: ‘It’s one of the hardest things, to be told your dad is dying but you can’t go and sit with him and hold his hand. It broke our hearts not to be there.’
Bradwell Hall confirmed that one staff member had tested positive for the illness and was recovering at home, and others are self-isolating.
Residents who showed symptoms of Covid-19 were being kept isolated in their rooms and ‘barrier-nursed’ in line with national guidance, meaning staff must wear protective equipment, the home said.
Therapist died in hospital where she used to work
Retired NHS carer Dianne Harvey died in the hospital where she used to work, her family said.
Mrs Harvey, 77, lived in the same care home as Reg Amison, and her family suspect that both of the pensioners caught coronavirus there.
Mrs Harvey, pictured with her late husband Peter, was a retired NHS occupational therapist and had lived in Bradwell Hall for four years after she developed dementia.
Mrs Harvey, pictured with her late husband Peter, was a retired NHS occupational therapist and had lived in Bradwell Hall for four years after she developed dementia
The former Sunday School teacher and Scout leader was taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital in Staffordshire after she became seriously ill with coronavirus. She failed to recover and died there.
Mrs Harvey had two sons, Paul and Roger, with her husband who was an ambulance driver.
Paul, 51, said: ‘She loved to help out in the local community every way she could.’
He added: ‘She was so selfless – always putting others above herself.’
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