Concerns raised over care homes after 86-year-old Rotherhithe woman passes away from coronavirus

Josh Salisbury (25 March, 2020) Health

Ruth was well known on the Setchell Estate where she lived before moving into the home

35670Rose Court care home in Rotherhithe Image: Anchor Care Homes

A relative of a woman who passed away from coronavirus in a Rotherhithe home has spoken of her concern around those in care homes.

Ruth Howes, aged 86, sadly died from the virus at St Thomas’ Hospital last week after contracting it at Rose Court care home, a dementia-friendly facility on Lower Road.

A close relative of Ms Howes, who did not wish to be named, has since contacted the News to raise fears about care homes’ approach to the virus, saying there had been no proper signage prior to the Ruth’s death to let visitors know the risks of coronavirus.

She paid moving tribute to Ruth as a kind woman who loved reading and would do anything for her neighbours.

The care home confirmed that one of its residents had sadly passed away from coronavirus and said it was taking all necessary staff to protect both residents and carers.

“She was so kind, she would give you her last penny if she could,” they said of Ruth, a former resident of the Setchell Estate.

Ruth loved books, was heavily involved on her estate – even sweeping and putting up flags for major occasions and decorations for Christmas – and would readily do the shopping for her neighbours.

In her earlier years, she had been a singer in the local pubs, too.

“Everyone on the estate knew her. She used to read until two o’clock in the morning, she’d be gardening, you name it, she did,” they added.

“I went up on the Saturday, and she didn’t look well at all,” said the family member. “I got a call about mid-morning on the Sunday to say that an ambulance had been called.

“The doctor said she wasn’t really well, she had pneumonia. They said the prognosis wasn’t good and they’d test her for Covid-19.

“When I went up Monday night, they said the test had come back positive.”

The family member said she had tried to contact the home multiple times since that Monday when Ruth tested positive and did not receive a response for a couple of days.

When they did get through they were apparently told that there had been seven positive cases at Rose Court.

The home would not comment on case numbers or if there had been any before Ruth was confirmed to have Covid-19.

Exterior of St Thomas’ Hospital

“I don’t blame the care home for what happened,” the relative told the News. “But there should have been a sign on the door to let people know.

“My only concern is that there was no notice there [prior to Ruth’s death], putting those visitors at risk as well.

“I’m just concerned now for people now going into any cares homes if they’re still able, or anyone visiting people with underlying health conditions to be extra careful, because who knows?”

“Good hygiene to prevent the potential spread of communicable diseases is standard practice at the home,” said director of care, Jane Darani.

“In addition, we followed Public Health England advice specific to Coronavirus and as soon as the resident exhibited symptoms, we took immediate action.”

Ruth was isolated as soon as symptoms were apparent, said Ms Darani, who added: “We are taking all of the necessary steps to protect people who live and work at the home from Coronavirus.”

“We have updated other residents and colleagues at the home. Deep cleaning and rigorous infection control processes were put in place.

“The wellbeing of our residents and colleagues is paramount.”

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