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Deaths of people needing home care in Liverpool triple during pandemic

Deaths of adults in home care have more than tripled in Liverpool over the last year.

Data obtained from the Care Quality Commissioner by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and passed to Scottie Press indicated deaths had risen by 258% between 2019 and 2020.


There were 100 deaths recorded in the pre-pandemic year compared to 358 from April 2020 to March 2021, but that figure could be much higher since the numbers only account for deaths logged by care providers.


The deaths will include elderly people, those with physical and learning difficulties, and mental health conditions – all people who rely on home care to be able to live independently.


Fazilet Hadi, head of policy at Disability Rights UK, told the Bureau: “The dramatic increase in deaths of people receiving domiciliary care during the pandemic appears to be truly shocking. It is very important that the figures are further analysed.


“Disabled and older people receiving care at home can often be very isolated and forgotten by the world around them. The everyday challenges they face are largely invisible and it is time we put a spotlight on their experiences during the pandemic.”


"Disabled and older people receiving care at home can often be very isolated and forgotten by the world around them."


Liverpool City Council suggested one of the key reasons could be that more people now need care at home and fewer are in residential care as a result of the pandemic.


A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council told Scottie Press: “We are interested in contributing to the understanding of the data which appears to show an increase in deaths of people who were receiving home care. However, there are likely to be multiple explanations and until these are further investigated nothing can be inferred.


“We believe that the most obvious factor responsible is that reporting obligations on deaths may have changed for home care agencies.


“Otherwise, more specifically, fewer people chose to move into care homes during the pandemic. There are now 400 more unoccupied care-home beds in Liverpool than there were before the pandemic, with more people therefore receiving home care with “discharge to assess” towards the end of life also becoming a major policy priority.


“Services such as hospitals were under great pressure during the pandemic and hospices were often closed to new patients due to outbreak management, which also meant that people at the end of life who would normally have been admitted to these services probably received care and eventually passed away at home. As part of the end of life pathway, we have generally been working to respect people’s wishes to enable them to die at home.


“It should also be noted that the number of deaths of people using domiciliary care from Covid-19 in Liverpool was 21 over the whole year to date – a remarkably small number and one of the lowest figures for local authorities in the UK – and domiciliary care remains a growing sector of the care market, with confidence levels at a continuing high level.”


The full report from the Bureau can be found here.