Care home staff in Cumbria have thanked Cumbria County Council and the local NHS for their support, as they continue to be right on the "front line" of the battle against coronavirus.

The county council is leading the county's response to coronavirus, working closely with the two NHS trusts in north and south Cumbria, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and the private care sector.

With their elderly and vulnerable residents, care homes are at particular risk from coronavirus, which has led the county council to undertake a number of targeted measures to make sure infections are prevented wherever possible, and contained wherever detected.

The council has a specialist outbreak control team, which is supporting any care homes experiencing cases.

It is also coordinating requests for support from care homes on a 24/7 basis, and managing the discharge of patients from hospitals into care settings.

Most critically, the county council is each day gathering data on suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases in care homes, to build up a real-time picture of where support is needed.

Managers from two care homes, one in Carlisle and one in Copeland, who preferred to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of residents, have praised the support they have received.

The manager of the care home in the Carlisle area said: “I found the support during the worst of our situation very valuable.

"As soon as I indicated we were in an emergency situation daily support and reassurance was offered as well as practical help with arranging extra nurses to help us at a time where residents were being cared for in our environment in a very acute situation.

"Having support on the phone every day was of great help to me as a manager.”

The other, the manager of a home in the Copeland area, said: “As a new interim manager I have been overwhelmed at the support I have been given by the local authority.

"I get daily phone call to see how we as a team are managing in these very difficult and stressful times for all concerned. I am asked daily if I have enough staff, PPE and if we are coping with the Covid-19 epidemic.

"This support from the local authority has been a god send to me and my team and we are grateful for the ongoing support. Our phone call always ends with we are here if you need anything just let us know.”

Patricia Bell, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for adult social care, said: “The care sector in Cumbria, both private and public, has been working incredibly hard for weeks now to keep our most vulnerable residents safe.

"It has been incredibly challenging and very sadly people have died. But is absolutely clear that the outstanding work of hundreds of people every day has prevented a far worse situation and we have been glad to be able to offer support to help them do their vital work.

“While the country starts to ease out of lockdown it is important to remember that our care sector is still supporting well over 100 people with confirmed Covid-19 infection, so the challenge is very much not over yet and they still need all the support of everyone in the community.”

Louise Mason-Lodge, acting director of nursing and quality at NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We work very closely with our care homes, and that relationship has been really important to help us identify when support is needed and offer advice and practical help quickly.

"Our care homes are a key part of our health and care system and they have worked tirelessly to support their residents.”