Deaths among home care service users in England over the past month were nearly three times higher than the average levels for previous years in the same time period, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has said.
ONS data shows that from April 10 to May 8 there were 3,161 deaths among recipients of domiciliary care in England reported to the CQC, 1,990 deaths higher than the three-year average (1,171 deaths) for the same time period.
Of these, 593 (18.8%) involved COVID-19, lower than the 43.7% of deaths involving coronavirus among care home residents notified to the CQC in the last month.
However, the figures for domiciliary care relate to regulated home care only, so are not directly comparable with care home figures.
They may also omit some deaths at home where the cause of death is not tested and recorded as COVID-19, the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) pointed out.
On April 15, the government announced that a COVID-19 test will be made available to “everyone who needs one” in social care. But while care home residents are being tested under these plans, home care service users are not.
Commenting at the time, UKHCA chief executive Jane Townson said: “Omitting homecare clients from their testing plans makes no sense. Anyone discharged from hospital, whether to care homes or homecare, needs to be tested to minimise spread of infection and to ensure limited supplies of PPE can be targeted effectively.
“We are not convinced the testing capacity is yet sufficient to do all that the government claims in their statement. Time will tell if this is wishful thinking.”
The Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) does not hold information on deaths in domiciliary care services as these services are not legally required to notify CIW of deaths.
On the same day the figures were released, the government announced that a £600 million Infection Control Fund will be introduced as part of a COVID-19 support package for care homes.
The fund, which ring-fenced, will be given to local authorities to ensure care homes can continue to halt the spread of coronavirus by helping them cover the costs of implementing measures to reduce transmission.
The UKHCA said it is making a case for further funding for, and direct support to, home care providers from central government.