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Staff bunking up at care home in lockdown to keep residents safe from COVID-19

Sky News logo Sky News 13/04/2020 Inzamam Rashid, news correspondent

A care home has been locked down by its owner, who has even installed bunk beds for staff so they could move in.

a man and a woman standing in a room: Staff at St Brelades care home in Herne Bay, Kent, are staying at work © Other Staff at St Brelades care home in Herne Bay, Kent, are staying at work

Larry Berkowitz owns St Brelades care home in Herne Bay, Kent, which looks after women with dementia and other health conditions.

After seeing the suffering in Italy and Spain due to COVID-19, Mr Berkowitz put his care home into lockdown, banning non-essential visitors, including the regular hairdressers and entertainers.

a bedroom with a bed and desk in a room: Bunk beds were installed so staff could stay at work © Getty Bunk beds were installed so staff could stay at work

He asked some of his staff to move into the care home if they were able to and he installed bunk beds for them in rooms normally reserved for meetings and other office space.

He told Sky News: "We've locked our home and we've asked carers to live in the home. We've been amazed at how keen and motivated they have been to do it, they now live with the residents.

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"It means that we've isolated ourselves from the outside world and shield ourselves from the real world outside of here.

"These may seem like drastic measures, but we're petrified. More and more people are dying of coronavirus in care homes, day by day."

He added: "It's really scary because you've got really vulnerable people here, this illness is so invisible and so unpredictable.

"We could have had carers walking around the home without realising they had the virus and it could have spread. That's why this lockdown is so important."

Mr Berkowitz said running the care home is "like a time bomb" and he needs all the support he can get.

"We do feel a bit forgotten to be honest.

"We obviously applaud all the NHS and all the guys behind the scenes, but we are trying to do the same thing and we're on our own quite frankly. We have a pool of very vulnerable people that we're just trying to protect."

It comes after news that 92 care homes have reported outbreaks of the coronavirus in the 24 hours to Monday evening.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said 13.5% of care homes have been affected by the virus.

He said he would like to see testing increased at care homes.

Asked if deaths were recorded properly in such homes, he said: "Everybody who sadly dies, the doctor will make an assessment based on her or his view about what the cause of death is, that's what the death certificate says in all cases."

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