Huddersfield hotel transformed into 'UK's first coronavirus care home' in three weeks

The UK's 'first Nightingale care home' to help the surge in vulnerable people amidst the coronavirus pandemic has opened in a hotel in West Yorkshire.

Huddersfield's Cedar Court Hotel at Ainley Top was transformed into a home for the elderly and vulnerable in just three weeks, and has now been registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The home will act as an "overspill" for a care sector stretched by greater demand, with many carers facing an increase in workload while others may be sick or having to self-isolate themselves.

Furloughed hotel staff have been trained in infection control and brought back to work to cook and clean at the hotel situated between Huddersfield and Halifax, while 30 specialist-trained carers have been allocated to the temporary home.

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The pilot scheme is being funded from a £6m share allotted to Calderdale Council, the district of which the hotel falls under, as part of the Government's £1.6bn funding for local authorities to manage the coronavirus outbreak.

Cedar Court Hotel at Ainley Top, Huddersfield

But officials meanwhile have warned of a secondary crisis in the care sector once numbers of hospital admissions and new cases in the virus have dropped, saying "lessons need to be learned" in better equipping homes and care companies.

Calderdale Council has praised the "mammoth efforts" involved among workers to quickly transform the four-star hotel into a 113-bed home.

Iain Baines, the council's director for adult services and well-being, told The Yorkshire Post that frontline staff had worked "tirelessly" to get the home up and running in under a month, and that two residents had since moved in with numbers expected to rise.

He said: "Part of our planning for this crisis recognised that people who normally receive care at home may be particularly vulnerable as some of those carers may longer be able to provide that.

The UK's first 'Nightingale' care home to help the surge in vulnerable people amidst the coronavirus pandemic has opened in a hotel in West Yorkshire

"People who we already employ have volunteered to go and work at the hotel, and Cedar Court staff who were furloughed at the beginning of the lockdown have been brought back to clean and cook for the residents. They have also received further training in infection control."

The first two people to move in to the new home have been young men with disabilities whose families are in need of respite from caring for them, Mr Baines said.

He added: "We have had staff going out and buying extra bedding and people have worked tirelessly - it makes you really proud of what we can do together. It's been a mammoth effort."

The Calderdale district currently has around 3,800 people classed as medically vulnerable who need to be completely isolated during the coronavirus outbreak. This is on top of the 2,700 people in the district who were reliant on care every day before the pandemic, while there are 5,700 people working in the care industry there.

The home at Cedar Court will provide care for elderly and vulnerable people amidst growing pressures on the care sector. Picture: Adobe Stock Images

Mike Padgham, Chair of the Yorkshire-based Independent Care Group, said the current health crisis has highlighted the need for more funding for the sector than ever before, and warned of the surge in reliance on carers as an aftermath of the virus.

He said: "Turning a hotel into a care home is not easy, and I would have hoped the capacity to look after the surge in people dependent on care would have been there in the first place. I think it is a great idea, but it should not have come to this.

"Care homes have been forgotten and overlooked for a long time, but now they are at the centre of attention with the focus on deaths in care homes and the provision of appropriate PPE and testing facilities.

"We have got to make sure lessons are learned from this. We shouldn't have to be turning hotels into care homes."

Care staff wear full PPE before entering rooms to help stop the transmission of Covid-19 at a nursing home in Sheffield, April 2020. Picture: SWNS

Mr Baines added: "We recognise that care at home right now isn't always possible, so it's important to make sure that people aren't left at home struggling."