Lack of PPE killed care home nurse who died of coronavirus, says her son

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Suzanne Loverseed ‘died as she lived: sacrificing herself for others,’ says Ian O’Neal

The son of a care home nurse who died after contracting Covid-19 has said a lack of personal protective equipment is what killed his mother, as the family were forced to say goodbye via an iPad.

In an online tribute, Ian O’Neal described Suzanne Loverseed, 63, as a “lioness” who gave everything for her children.

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World news | The Guardian

The son of a care home nurse who died after contracting Covid-19 has said a lack of personal protective equipment is what killed his mother, as the family were forced to say goodbye via an iPad.

In an online tribute, Ian O’Neal described Suzanne Loverseed, 63, as a “lioness” who gave everything for her children.

He wrote: “At the end, she worked in a care home, with patients dying of this virus. She had no PPE [protective personal equipment] but fearlessly she carried on. That’s what killed her.”

Rebecca O'Neal (@rebeccaoneal_84)

A beautiful tribute for mum written by my brother. Please read. https://t.co/n7dob4R7eV May 1, 2020

It comes amid growing concern about the risks faced by those in the UK’s care homes, with the sector believed to be at the centre of crisis. On Wednesday, the government released figures that revealed coronavirus deaths for both in hospitals and the community, including care homes, for the first time. It added an additional 3,811 deaths for those who had tested positive for Covid-19 in the community since the start of the outbreak, bringing the total number of deaths to more than 26,000.

Five carers, who lost their jobs after raising concerns about understaffing and personal protective equipment shortages at homes, are considering taking legal action, according to a charity that says more whistleblowers face being sacked before the end of the Covid-19 crisis.

O’Neal said that his mother was “too young to die but old enough to die from this – a statistic to others, but the very heart of our family”.

He said: “But I will say this: there are some people out there still urging that the virus is not that threatening, or that the government has overreacted, or that it doesn’t matter if a few oldies die. They are mistaken.

“We might have had another 20 years with her: instead, we had to say goodbye via an iPad, unable to hold her hand. Her grandson is not yet three. About 25,000 other families will know what I mean when I say that I hope to God such people never have personal cause to amend their opinions.”

Before working in care homes, Loverseed was a nurse for decades, caring for sick and vulnerable people, including the liver failure ICU at King’s College hospital.

O’Neal said that before her death, his mother built her existence around her grandson. “He calls her Gigi,” he said. “I’ve no idea why. He loves his Gigi, still asks for her. She saw him most days and helped support my sister and brother-in-law in various ways.

“I was somewhat out of the picture, living down in Kent. I didn’t mind. Why should I? We had years and years ahead of us. I had no cause to be in any hurry. And anyway, whenever I did see her, frankly, I took her for granted. Again, why shouldn’t I? These were not meant to be her final years.”

O’Neal said him and his mother both loved music and had “stacks of records”. He said: “In the ’80s, she had rebought most of those records on CD, so I was able to poach them and listen to them on my CD player in my room. She was happy enough to let me. I still remember when I first played Dark Side of the Moon to myself, not realising what a monument it was. Blew me away. Still does. About two years ago, she drove me around Kent, I think to visit the vineyards where we had lunch, and we played it end to end at maximum volume.”

On 6 April, Compassion in Care released figures showing it had received 87 calls in the previous two weeks from staff raising PPE concerns in social care, including 61 in residential homes, 20 from nursing homes and six for home care agencies.


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