Illegal care homes shelter 35,000 elderly “and no one knows where they are”

It’s another ‘headache’ for authorities focused on containing Covid-19 infections within the country’s care home sector.

Say reports today, there are 35,000 old people living in 3,500 illegal care homes where risks of contamination are “heightened” – but no-one knows where they are.

The reason for fears is that these are homes chosen for the fact they are cheaper than recognised, licensed facilities, As such they don’t follow general practices when it comes to contingency plans, the professionalism of staff or even adequate equipment.

Says Jornal de Notícias: “Social Security recognises the problem and has an operation underway with other institutions to identify these care homes”.

ALI – an association offering home-help to the elderly – stresses ‘clandestine care homes’ could rapidly become a public health issue.

“No one knows what could happen. This is a very big risk, not just for the people who live and work in these homes but for the fact that the virus could be spread, without proper controls”, said ALI president João Ferreira de Almeida. “While our workers know all the necessary measures and procedures that should be adopted, we don’t know if this information reaches these care homes”.

Said Ferreira de Almeida, clandestine care homes usually operate with half the number of staff employed by licensed homes. They often don’t have articulated beds, or even the correct kind of mattresses for bedridden inmates. They rarely have trained nursing staff- but families chose them because they can work out around half the price of a licensed home, and are ‘available’ when many official homes have long waiting lists.