The family of a widower from Roade who died after contracting Covid-19 at a Kettering care home say they want answers from health and social care bosses.
Mikhail Waskiw, who came to Britain as a Ukrainian war refugee in the 1940s, was taken to Temple Court Care Home from Northampton General Hospital on February 28 to rehabilitate after a fall he had just before Chrismas when he broke his hip.
But just 37 days later he died from coronavirus and is one of 14 residents of the home who died over an eight-week period. Four who died had coronavirus on their death certificate and another seven are suspected to have died with the contagion.
The home, which has now been closed on orders from the health and local authorities, had taken in 15 patients from the county’s two hospitals on March 19, after a mass discharge effort led by the health and the local authority to free up hospital beds in preparation for a coronavirus influx. A spokesman for the home claims it was Covid-19 free before the discharged patients arrived. They also say the patients had not been tested for Covid-19 before they were moved to Temple Court.
Mikhail’s family say they believe he would still be alive today if he had not gone to Temple Court, as he was in general good health. They are angry they were not told about the outbreak or given the opportunity to take him home.
His son Garry, 58, said: “Obviously I am a bit angry. What has been going on? It feels like we have been lied to. I don’t blame the carers in the care home, but we do want to know what has happened.
“My dad did want to come out, and we were in the process of having an assessment so he could go back to his bungalow when the lockdown happened.”
The family had been making the 40-mile round trip from Roade to Kettering each day to visit the much-loved grandfather. However the home closed its doors to visitors on March 13 and they never saw him again.
As he was on a floor that did not have a phone, they sent him in a mobile phone which they would call and then a member of staff would take the phone to him. They were told he had a chest infection on April 3. He was taken into Kettering General Hospital on April 5 and died there the next day.
His daughter-in-law Sheryl who is married to Mikhail’s son Raymond, 62, said: “He definitely wasn’t ready to leave this world. He was in Temple Court Care Home for respite only, after a hip operation. Not seeing him for three weeks before he died and not being with him for his final hours is so painful.
“He saw his family every day. As a family we had every intention of bringing him home. He was taken from his family at a very young age to work for the Germans as he lived in Ukraine, then so unfairly wasn’t with his family in his final weeks.
“Why oh why did they allow the hospital to put Covid-19 patients into the care home?
“Had we been informed we would have taken him home and managed his respite there. We was never told of such an outbreak until we saw this on the local news. I did ask the question of the home on April 4 about Covid-19 cases in the home, the response I got was “we are not obliged to say”.”
Mrs Waskiw has written to the care home, Northamptonshire County Council – which runs adult social services – and the Care Quality Commission asking for answers.
Mikhail was born in the Ukraine in 1928, and after being captured by the Germans when a teenager he was rescued by the Americans and then settled in Britain, making his home in Roade.
He married local woman Sheila and worked at piano makers Pianoforte Supplies for many years. Sadly Sheila died in 1978, and 20 years later he remarried Barbara who died in the 2000s.
His family say he was an upbeat person who loved to garden. His funeral was held at Roade Cemetery at the end of April and as well as mourners in the churchyard, people stood in a nearby field to pay their last respects.
Mikhail was admitted to Northampton General Hospital a week before Christmas after having fallen in the chemist. He had a hip operation and stayed there for ten weeks, before being moved to Temple Court.
Northamptonshire County Council has been asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service about its testing policy authority but it has not answered the question because of an ‘ongoing enquiry’.
A spokesman said: “As in all cases where concerns are raised about quality of care provision, our first priority is the wellbeing of residents.
“All residents of Temple Court residential and nursing care home have now been moved to new placements elsewhere to ensure that no-one is at risk, and in line with our standard practice a multi-agency investigation has begun into the issues raised.
“With initial enquiries under way, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”
A media statement from Minster Care which runs Temple Court said, after becoming unwell, Mikhail was prescribed antibiotics after a telephone consultation. A doctor did not visit the home as this was the GP's policy. The incubation period for Covid-19 is two weeks meaning Mikhail is almost certain to have contracted the virus while in Temple Court.
A spokesman said: “When Mr Waskiw’s condition did not improve due to the antibiotics, he was admitted to hospital where he sadly died. Our thoughts are with his family and indeed the relatives of all residents who have died during this terrible pandemic.
“Our priority has always been the wellbeing of our residents and giving them the best care possible. However, due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the home was left in an extremely challenging position.
“A large number of staff, including the home manager and senior team, were absent and we were left disproportionately reliant on the use of agency staff. This – added to sudden influx of residents to support the NHS, some of whom had complex needs – meant we were not always in a position to provide families with all of the information they had requested.”
Two weeks before he died his first great-grandchild was born, although Mikhail never got the chance to meet him.
His daughter-in-law Sheryl said: “The only saving grace we have is that he had a great family life. His only great-grandson was born on March 27. Mikhail didn’t meet him, but he will be forever talked about and remembered.”
The Government has been facing increasing pressure about how it has handled the outbreak of the epidemic in care homes. In guidance given on February 25 it said care home residents were ‘very unlikely’ to contract Covid-19. This guidance was withdrawn on March 13.
The government also did not include deaths in care homes as part of their daily briefings until last month.
Up until May 1 the Office of National Statistics said that a quarter of all Covid deaths in England and Wales happened in care homes.