Crisis in Swanage care home as residents and staff get Covid

A care home in Swanage is appealing for more qualified staff to come to their aid after 34 out of its 40 residents tested positive for coronavirus, along with 30 members of staff.

This has left Wordsworth House Care Home struggling with only 14 members of staff to look after the residents, many of whom are sadly very ill with Covid.


While it is a private care home, Dorset Council has intervened and was able to divert four agency care workers to help support the exhausted team at the home in Belle Vue Road in Durlston. The home normally employs 47 members of staff.

Unable to recruit any temporary staff

With the coronavirus crisis, there is a Dorset-wide and indeed a UK shortage of care home staff, so the operations manager at Wordsworth House, Kellie Cooke has been unable to recruit any temporary staff. She is now making a public appeal for trained staff who may be available over the next few weeks to get in contact if they can help:

“I’ve rung round the agencies with no luck, so the four extra members of staff are a Godsend. However if anyone knows of any suitable staff who can help, please share this information and ask them to contact me via email

Wordsworth House Care Home

“It’s like a battlefield environment”

The care home first knew it had a problem on Friday 15th January 2021 when they did a routine swab test of residents and 26 results came back positive. Along with all the other care homes in Swanage, Wordsworth House residents were due to receive the Covid vaccine the following week beginning Monday 18th January 2021. Kellie Cooke said:

“One of our residents had been in hospital. All the correct procedures were followed and 48 hours before she was discharged, she was tested for Covid and it was negative. However shortly after returning she had symptoms and then subsequently tested positive. We suspect that may have been the cause of our outbreak.

“You do everything in your power to keep Covid out but what more could we have done? It’s a totally unreal situation.

“In the care home environment, we are fighting an invisible enemy. We have been doing all the right things and the residents have been in their rooms. We’ve been changing our PPE and washing our hands until they are raw. It’s like a battlefield environment

“I really want people to know that it’s not just the hospitals that are struggling – it’s the care homes too. People should know what is happening in Swanage and they need to stick to the guidelines – there shouldn’t be any socialising.”

Kellie Cooke was full of praise for her team and the community nurses. She added:

“Our staff are working so hard, so thank you to all our amazing staff, especially my care manager who has worked for 15 days without a break. Also our two local district nurses who have been our complete rock – helping and guiding us over the last week and making sure that our residents are well cared for. I can’t thank them enough.”

Swanage Town Council meeting

The crisis at Wordsworth House Care Home was raised by councillor Debby Monkhouse at the Swanage Town Council meeting on Monday 25th January 2021 as a point of information for councillors.

Councillor Debby Monkhouse asked councillor Gary Suttle, Swanage’s elected representative on Dorset Council for an update on the situation. He explained that Dorset Council was doing everything it could to keep the Wordsworth House residents safe along with the residents in the other 49 care homes in its area that were in a similar situation. He said:

“Dorset Council is continuing to work with the home to try and provide but none of the private agencies have any staff and the council has a severe lack of staff. We’re in a crisis with Covid in Dorset and it’s very difficult…

“The ideal staffing structure is one to one and that’s being stretched to three to one… Wordsworth House is not by any means alone in that regard but we’re doing our absolute utmost to ensure the residents are protected.”

Wordsworth House Care Home

Number of coronavirus cases in Swanage

The outbreak of Covid in Wordsworth House partly explains the reason why the number of cases in Swanage is well above the national average in England.

The latest information on the government’s website shows that for the last seven days to 20th January 2021, there were 75 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Contact Wordsworth House

Operations manager at Wordsworth House, Kellie Cooke can be contacted via email by trained care workers who would be willing to work at the home during the crisis. Her email is

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