Staff at a Derry care home have spoken of an 'immeasurable' sense of loss following the recent deaths of a number of 'much-loved' residents.
The Derry News today reveals that eight residents at Owen Mor Care Centre at Culmore have died in the last ten days.
At the end of March, the local home said that six of its residents had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
However, the home has said that due to confidentiality issues it cannot comment further on the cause of the recent deaths.
To date, any coronavirus-related deaths in care homes in Northern Ireland have not been included in the figures released on a daily basis by the Public Health Agency (PHA) which detail the number of deaths.
The PHA figures only record hospital deaths and not those in the community.
Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) is publishing weekly deaths statistics that include suspected and confirmed COVID-19 related deaths across hospital and community settings.
Following criticism of that approach, a further breakdown detailing the figures for COVID-19 deaths in local care homes will be included in NISRA's report from tomorrow onwards.
An analysis by the Derry News has found that 16 people have died in care homes in Derry city and the surrounding area since the PHA began publishing its daily bulletins on March 24.
This analysis is based on death notices published on the Funeral Times website.
A further 16 deaths took place in care homes located in Limavady and Coleraine.
According to the Funeral Times notices, during the period from March 24, eight people have passed away at Owen Mor Care Centre.
There is no indication of how many of the people who passed away in local care homes died of COVID-19.
On March 30, Owen Mor revealed that six residents had contracted COVID-19 and were in isolation.
Two days later the home confirmed that an individual had passed away.
In a detailed statement to the Derry News, a spokesperson for Owen Mor said the sense of loss due to the recent deaths within the home was ‘immeasurable’.
“We cannot begin to understand how families are feeling right now, staff are devastated at the loss of our much-loved residents and we offer our deepest sympathies to their families,” a spokesperson for the home said.
“Owing to respect and confidentiality we are not at liberty to provide such detailed information pertaining to a small resident group.
“If a resident tests positive this is immediately communicated to their next of kin and to other next of kins of residents in the home and if their loved one is in the same unit we will inform them of this. The relevant government departments will be aware of all residents who are tested for COVID-19 and as always are informed of any deaths that occur in the home.
“Throughout, staff have been committed and relentless in their determination to provide the best care possible to everyone living in Owen Mor Care Centre.”
The spokesperson continued: “These are the most challenging of times and we continue to provide quality care in a calm, friendly and homely environment.
“As always we communicate with each resident’s next of kin, keeping them up to date with the situation within the Home.
“Even at this difficult time families have been extremely supportive to staff and they express their gratitude in the most generous of ways including providing food and snacks for staff and sending many kind messages of thanks and encouragement.”
Staff are following guidance from the PHA and have adequate supplies of PPE, the spokesperson said. These are replenished from home stock and from stock supplied by the Western Trust.
PPE has also been donated from the community e.g. hand gel, gloves and eye protection and the centre is ‘very grateful’ for the support.
Owen Mor continues to protect residents by nursing in isolation, checking temperatures, promoting handwashing, and trying to do ‘everything possible’ to minimise human to human transmission.
“We understand the concern regarding Care Homes at present and seek to reassure that everything that we can do is being done,” the spokesperson concluded.
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