THE family of man who died at a Darlington care home have claimed they were not told their father was ‘ill’ with symptoms of coronavirus in the days leading up to his death.

John Ernest Recker, who became a well known personality in Darlington after running Woolworths on Northgate for several years, died aged 84 at Riverside View Care Home.

An inquest, that was last month held into his death, found Mr Recker had been suffering from a cold, a high temperature and had been having difficulty swallowing his food.

The inquest also found Mr Recker, who had lived at the home for six years, had been visited by a community matron and had been placed into self-isolation because of his symptoms.

The inquest ruled his death on April 11 had been a natural death, caused by Covid-19 and frailty of old age.

But the family of Mr Recker have since claimed the care home did not disclose that their father had been suffering from symptoms of Covid-19.

The Northern Echo: John Ernest Recker, circled, with his team at WoolworthsJohn Ernest Recker, circled, with his team at Woolworths

Speaking to The Northern Echo, his daughter, Fiona Recker said the family could have said "goodbye" if they had been aware aware of the "seriousness" of the situation.

She said: “When the care home had contacted us, they never mentioned Covid-19 – they weren’t transparent with the family and we weren’t told that it could be coronavirus.

“When they called us, they told us that dad had died peacefully in his sleep, we didn’t know if he died that way and we never got the impression it had been serious.”

Ms Recker, who last month paid tribute to an “immaculate and generous” father, said the care home did not communicate that her father had been seen by the community matron for his symptoms, nor did staff communicate that he had been placed into self-isolation.

She said: “If the care home had told us he had suspected Covid-19, we could have rang him and told him we loved him.

“We didn’t know how ill he was.

“They phoned and said he was off his food and then he died an hour later.

“They didn’t tell us he was in isolation and that he had seen a doctor, we don’t know if he suffered.”

Ms Recker's claims came as the Government this week said it had taken "significant steps" to improve the situation in care homes affected by Covid-19.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said there had been "big lessons" to be learned from the treatment of care homes during the outbreak.

He said: "We are still living through this pandemic and there will be lessons to be learned.

"We have taken significant steps to improve the care of people in care homes.

"There will be a point in the future when all of us can look back and reflect and make sure we have learned the appropriate lessons.

"At the moment, we are focused on making sure we beat the virus and protect people as effectively as possible.”

  • The Northern Echo contacted Riverside View Care Home and Burlington Care but they did not respond to requests for comment.
  • All inquiries into this story were made via the telephone and email.