Cheryl Kenealy, managing director of Zuri Care, has hit out at the government in response to recent remarks and said frontline care workers were ‘petrified’ of catching Covid-19 due to insufficient personal protective equipment.
She described the government as ‘dismissive’ of her sector, with her comments contradicting claims made by Chief Minister John Le Fondré on Thursday evening that there was no shortage of PPE and the protection of frontline workers was a ‘priority’ for the government.
Last week, Health Minister Richard Renouf said that his department ‘expected’ independent care providers to have their own PPE, having known about the Covid-19 outbreak since December.
Mrs Kenealy said that his comments were ‘disgraceful’ and that care providers had in fact been waiting for equipment for weeks.
‘There is not sufficient PPE in care homes, for home carers or the charities in the community care sector,’ she said.
‘We have been asking for PPE for weeks and it is just not being delivered. I think the reality is that they simply do not have enough PPE to distribute.
‘I think that the government have their own supplies and are trying to protect the Hospital but community care staff, who are the frontline, protect the Hospital. If you protect the community, you protect the Hospital.
‘Homes have their own PPE supplies in case there is an outbreak, such as the norovirus. But they do not have supplies to deal with a pandemic. The government should be supplying us.’
She said that both staff and patients were suffering due to fear of catching the virus and labelled the government’s communication over the matter as ‘terrible’ and ‘dismissive’.
‘Staff working in care homes and in home care at the moment are absolutely petrified,’ she said.
‘They are coming to work frightened because they cannot protect themselves. Patients are having to be shut in their rooms in isolation.’
She added: ‘I think the communication from the government has been terrible. They have been very dismissive to the care sector.
‘It is the plan under the new Jersey Care Model for there to be more community care. If this is the support they provide for community care then I won’t be able to back it.’
Mrs Kenealy said that she was aware that a lot of Islanders had tried to help the government source PPE and other equipment but had not had their offers taken up.
Islander Bella Ward is fronting a campaign to raise £100,000 to fund the purchase of PPE for frontline workers in Jersey’s care homes, which can be found on justgiving.com HERE.