Carers around Portsmouth area feel 'forgotten' as they face the 'front line' without protective equipment and tests
'WE ARE soldiers on the frontline facing death every day.'
Selfless carers across the Portsmouth area are calling for change after being left without protective equipment and with some struggling to buy food for vulnerable residents.
Domiciliary and care home workers alike have said they feel they 'have been forgotten' amid the coronavirus pandemic with concerns mounting for both their and their clients' health.
Verina Daly, 54, who runs Verina Daly Care, which looks after 40 clients between Waterlooville and Petersfield, said: 'We are having to go out into the community to people who have got symptoms who aren't being tested. We don't know if they have got it.
'We phone GPs up if someone has symptoms and they just say keep going in to them until there's danger to life at which point they will be hospitalised. We are soldiers on the frontline facing death every day.
'I was able to get some suits from a DIY store before it all kicked off but they are just dust suits. They are huge and not air tight and I was only able to get 10 for my 40 staff.
'The government needs to provide us with the right equipment.'
She was also concerned about the amount of time and money needed to provide care as many family members of clients have been isolating.
She added: 'We are having to find more time to do all their shopping and to go and collect their prescriptions.
'And this is putting expenses up. I am worried about my business through all this as well.'
Jacqui Joyce, 54, who manages a care home in Hayling Island explained how difficult it was becoming to find food for their 31 residents.
'Usually we get several online deliveries of food a week,' she said.
'Now we can only get one a week but it's limited to how much you can get. We are having to go to supermarkets every day to buy food but some aren't co-operating with how much we can buy.
'We've faced abuse from customers who think we're there bulk buying for ourselves.'
She also believed personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing should be made available to care staff.
Jacqui added: 'It's been a total nightmare, the staff are really anxious about it. We have got enough hand gel in stock for the moment, but that's only because we keep a large stock and we have some masks but it won't last.
'They are testing the workers in hospitals but in care homes if my staff go down with it there aren't tests. If my staff go off sick we have to get agency staff in and we don't know if they could have it.
'I think any front-line health care workers who get symptoms should be tested.'
One 44-year-old agency care worker from Southsea, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed. 'I'm more worried about the lack and the availability of protective equipment,' he said.
'We have got a few masks but not enough. You can only use them once and we are doing multiple visits a day to vulnerable people.
'It feels like carers have been forgotten about.'