As the Covid inquiry examines the UK's response to the pandemic, a Christian care home provider reflects on the devastating impact the government's decisions had on the elderly.
Covid has been described as being the "wrong crisis" for Boris Johnson's "skillset" - by his former head of communications, Lee Cain.
Giving evidence to the public inquiry, Cain questioned the ex-Prime Minister's decision making, and said that there was initially no clear plan on how to deal with the virus.
Louise Morse, from care home provider Pilgrims Friends Society (PFS) tells Premier the elderly were left feeling terrified as the pandemic hit:
"The effect on elderly people was huge. The government at that time was very afraid of hospital staff being put in a position of having to choose who to treat and who to let die. They were very concerned about hospitals being overwhelmed."
Morse explains that care home like PFS had to use their ingenuity to ensure the safety and proper treatment of patients, as supplies and support were scarce. "The government seemed to have taken its eyes totally off of the needs of older people in care homes. There was very little personal protection equipment in those times."
Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson's top adviser when coronavirus hit, told the Covid Inquiry that politicians dealt with the crisis 'extremely badly'. He described the lack of a shielding plan for older and vulnerable people as “crackers”.
In the early months of the pandemic, Matt Hancock, the then Health and Social Care Secretary made the decision to discharge elderly patients into care homes without testing them for Covid-19. Recalling this announcement, Morse says she was "absolutely flabbergasted."
"To my mind, still, that was a very ageist move, that was saying, 'Elderly patients, we're moving you out, they have to cope with you, whatever, because we want these spaces for younger people.' I thought that was and I still think that that was utterly disgraceful."
Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser told the public inquiry that the former PM had agreed with a cabinet colleague that the government should “let old people get it [coronavirus]" in order to protect the rest of society from its impacts.
Some 20,000 care home residents in England died from Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020.
Speaking of the more positive lessons she thinks have been learnt from the pandemic, Morse said, "Carers were recognised as the key workers that they are, for the important roles that they fulfilled. Without care homes, the NHS would totally collapse. It's a situation that still needs to be adjusted financially and psychologically today."