FAMILIES said they are furious after learning care homes across County Durham are welcoming new residents despite the coronavirus pandemic.

One family with relatives living at Rose Lodge Care Home, in Newton Aycliffe, said they are worried and upset following a letter sent by the home informing them new residents have been registered during the outbreak.

They said relatives are unable to visit home guests to prevent the risk of spreading the virus and could not understand why homes are allowing others inside.

One family member said: “I don’t think they should be taking people in at this time as it's exposing the elderly residents who are vulnerable.

“I am really worried and concerned for my mother as I don’t think the residents have any protection. The carers have been given personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure they don’t get the virus but the guests have nothing. This could have all been prevented which is why I am so furious as care home residents are being put at risk.”

In response to the claims, a spokesperson for Rose Lodge Care Home said the home has taken new admissions in order to help Durham County Council with a small block contract to help to free beds in the acute hospital settings.

They said: "The Government criteria for discharging into care homes is that a Covid test should be completed before discharge.

“It is always our priority to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible and in order to do that we continue to follow Government guidelines.”

Durham County Council confirmed care homes are receiving admissions and residents returning from hospital where appropriate.

Jane Robinson, Durham County Council’s corporate director of adult and health services, said: “In line with national guidance and the social care action plan, care homes are receiving admissions and residents returning from hospital where appropriate.

“Care homes are being supported in implementing national guidelines to prevent or reduce the spread of the virus within their homes. We are in daily contact with homes to offer advice and support, such as assistance with food supplies, testing, PPE, infection control and staffing.

“We also acknowledge the valuable work that care staff do and have, with partners, put in place support for their mental health and wellbeing. We have increased funding to support providers and through the County Durham Care Academy we have started recruitment of an additional 50 staff to work in the care sector in the last month.

“We would like to thank our care home providers and their staff who are providing vital services to some of our most vulnerable residents in these challenging times.”