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A big lesson to be learned from the coronavirus pandemic is to shift focus away from NHS to people receiving care at home

Nick Sanderson, Chairman of the Association of Retirement Community Operators (ARCO), told a webinar audience earlier today that there needs to be early intervention to protect the vulnerable in the community; namely the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

“There needs to be early engagement, early assessment, support in homes and adapting them and, of course I would say, the creation of a lot of housing with care to give people protection,” said Sanderson, who is also CEO of the Audley Group which has 20 retirement villages in the UK.

Unlike care homes, where many facilities are shared, people living in their own homes and also retirement communities can self isolate more easily and be better protected he added.

“That would mean care homes can then focus on providing complex needs and end of life care which can’t be provided in the community,” he added.

“And then let hospitals get on with what they should be doing – providing acute medicine to those people who have acute needs such as trauma, cancer and heart disease.”

He supported his recommendation with the fact that the NHS has 160,000 beds; care homes 450,000 beds while some 1.5million people have home care delivered in the community.

The vast majority of deaths from coronavirus, which have topped 30,000, occur in the over 65 age group with some 7,000 people estimated to have died in care homes.

“If we can catch people early we can avoid so many problems,” he added. “I sincerely hope it opens up a debate where some of these issues can be dealt with. And the mistakes made and lessons learned … may just at last mean we look at this the right way round.”

The webinar, hosted by the Institute of Longevity was entitled: Care homes, retirement housing and the coronavirus. Responding today. But what happens next.