CARE homes are desperately pleading for help as the UK number of deaths from coronavirus leaps to 442.

Amid a suspected Covid-19 outbreak in a Hove care home and the climbing death toll, Arlington House, also in Hove, says it is struggling to find the essentials.

The home in Tennis Road looks after older people living with health problems such as dementia.

Roxana Steedman, who owns the home with husband David, says they are worrying about food, advice from authorises has been minimal and they have been given protection masks with a 2016 expiry date.

Panic buying has led supermarkets to limit food purchases per customer, which the home says is having a major impact on it finding supplies. Ms Steedman said: “We are terrified and desperate for help.

“We normally place two £300 orders with Asda a week but now they are cutting them back – our order is now down to £200.

“We should now be spending our time looking after residents but instead, we are worrying about having enough food to eat.

“We have had to draw up our own measures about how we are going to work – putting ourselves into lockdown about three weeks ago.

“We’ve been told we would get PPE (personal protective equipment), but we have only received 300 masks – to use only if there is an outbreak. We are having to try source our own.

“I’m trusting the PPE given to us, even though the masks have an expiry date of 2016, as we have been told they’re good to use.”

Ms Steedman said staffing was becoming an issue as there were not enough people working in the social care system to replace those off sick.

Her husband Mr Steedman said: “Food is one of the last pleasures our residents have.

“We are dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in the city.”

Brighton and Hove City Council said: “We are acutely aware of the difficulties care homes are facing.

“We know that sourcing food is a major issue for them and we are making sure they and other care homes have enough food.

“We have set up a city-wide group with other key agencies led by the city’s Food Partnership to help care homes and others get the food they need. This will start to make a real difference in a matter of days.”

The pleas for help come as Oaklands Nursing Home battles a suspected outbreak of coronavirus.

Manager Betti Korder has made an appeal for testing after her residents and staff began coming down with Covid-19 symptoms 13 days ago.

So far, three people – all residents – have been tested at the home in Dyke Road Avenue. But Ms Korder says health authorities must test their staff so if they do not have the virus, they can return to work to care for the sick residents.

Seven staff members have reportedly fallen ill displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

On Monday afternoon, families who are in constant contact with the home said 16 of the home’s 20 residents were displaying similar symptoms. All residents at the home are over the age of 65.

Ms Korder told The Argus: “We need tests. They need to test our staff. Without testing, they don’t know who is safe to work and who can’t work.”

Ms Korder said she will be waiting for the results of the current tests before commenting further on the outbreak.

The call for more tests comes as the Labour Party leader spoke out after reading about the nursing home’s plight in The Argus yesterday. Posting on social media, Jeremy Corbyn quoted Gisella Casciello-Rogers, whose 94-year-old father Giuseppe Casciello has been sick for over a week in the home.

She said: “What can we do? Sit here and watch the residents die because staff are not getting the help assistance they need?”

Mr Corbyn said: “Shocking news from Hove. Today we have asked the Government to come forward with a clear and comprehensive plan for social care.”

Public Health England said the NHS is managing testing. An NHS spokeswoman insisted the Department of Health and Social Care was responsible for the care home’s testing. The department did not respond to The Argus’s request for comment.

The outbreak is understood to have started 12 days ago, but despite pleading for it, the home has been unable to source the “proper protective equipment”.

Health authorities announced yesterday that a total of 90,436 people have been tested. Of these, 82,359 were negative, 8,077 were positive and 422 patients have now died.

l A coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal.

Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at

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