WHILE many of us are at home safe with loved ones, an army of frontline workers are at the coalface of the battle to look after Bolton's most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Today, as it was revealed that at least nine deaths in Bolton's care homes were linked to the virus, one worker lifts the lid on her experiences on the frontline of an emergency the like of which we've never seen before.

The care home worker, whose anonymity we have agreed to safeguard, told The Bolton News, she and colleagues feel as they are the forgotten frontline workers at the centre of this epidemic.

“We are caring for people who have tested positive for covid-19, and we are not being given PPE equipment,” she said.

“Some of the people we look after who have tested positive are not taken into hospital, they have underlying conditions, do not resuscitate orders and are given palliative care.

“I sat with a person who had covid-19 and it is heartbreaking. They are not allowed family members because of the virus ­— we are the ones who are there with them.

“I would not give up my job, I took a pay cut to come into care work and love it, I want to care for those who cannot care for themselves and we just want support ­— but no one is listening. The care sector was in crisis before and now it is even worse.”

READ > Bolton's care home heroes 'desperately need' help, union

She added: “My daughter is pregnant and she has had to move out to live with a family member because I was worried about her and the baby because of the work I do. We telephone all the time and cry because she is worried about me.”

Carers work in a variety of settings, including residential and private homes, looking after those most in need. There is no real testing, so care home workers don’t know if the person they are looking after has the illness or not.

"I looked after someone who was later taken to hospital and diagnosed with covid-19.

“I had got what I thought was a head cold and had to self isolate and then I suffered shortness of breath. I do not have asthma or any lung conditions. I had to take a week off and did not get paid, statutory sick pay does not come through straight away.

“The Government has said to other key workers they should not worry if they have to self-isolate but we are getting no support.

“It is a testament to care home workers who are scared to death but refuse to give up the work they are doing to help the vulnerable.

“Many care home workers are having to use public transport and visit different settings over a large area,” she said. “I feel really angry. We are undervalued and just want our managers to support us.”