Care home nurse’s family try to recover after losing her to Covid | NHS

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For Ken Sazuze and his two children, Andrew and Anna, their house is no longer a home. They did not put up Christmas decorations, and each day they struggle with the pain of a loss that has broken their family. Nine months ago, Ken lost his wife of 24 years to Covid-19.

Elsie Sazuze died aged 44 on 9 April at the Good Hope hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. She had been working as a care home nurse for three years when she and Ken contracted the virus in April. While he recovered from a mild illness, Elsie deteriorated quickly.

Ken says she called everybody when she was told she had to be put on a ventilator. “It was like she knew she had to make last calls and say goodbyes. Four days later, she grew her wings.” He remains unsure how they caught the virus, but believes it could have been at work – he says Elsie was never given proper PPE, only a flimsy plastic apron and gloves.

“Losing Elsie has been devastating and something words cannot explain. She was an amazing woman, and really missed,” Ken says of his high school sweetheart, who lived two doors away from him in their home city of Blantyre, Malawi.

Elsie and Ken Sazuze
Happier times: Elsie and Ken Sazuze. Photograph: Anthony Shintai/The Guardian

“She was a very peaceful woman. She spoke with her eyes and her smile. She loved her peace, her family, and she loved having fun. She was the best gift God ever gave us.”

As a family, they were always very close. They have fond memories of camping holidays in Wales, barbecues and Monopoly at Christmas, and parties at their home in Birmingham. Anna, 16, loved going to concerts with her mother, and Ken recalls the couple taking Andrew, 22, clubbing with them several times. His wife was a quiet, church-going person, who loved her family, her soaps and her R&B.

The way she died was sudden, leaving the family financially as well as emotionally broken. Elsie had been the main breadwinner while Ken completed his own nursing studies, so on top of their immeasurable loss and trying to process their grief, he is constantly anxious and worried about money and providing for the family.

“I’m broke. We’ve been struggling to pay for food and bills,” he says. “I can’t afford to pay the bills. When I can, I’d rather pay my daughter’s phone than my own. I know many families who have lost their breadwinners and are going through hardship at this time.”

The risk from coronavirus remains highest for healthcare workers, who are seven times more likely to develop severe Covid-19. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 600 healthcare workers have died. A lifeline for families left behind has been support through the NHS-founded charity Healthcare Workers’ Foundation (HWF), which launched its Family Fund initiative after healthcare workers expressed fear and anxiety about the impact their duties might have on their lives and their loved ones.

The fund has raised more than £47,000 for bereaved families, providing access to counselling, legal and financial advice, respite breaks, and mentoring services on careers and education for children.

Ken says support from the HWF has been “overwhelming” in helping to ease their pain. “They have supported us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. It’s a rough journey, but they are helping us deal with it,” he says. As well providing access to bereavement counselling and therapy, checking on them regularly and getting Anna and Andrew out of the house, HWF helped Andrew secure a four-week accounting internship and is supporting Anna in her A-level studies.

“My children have gone through a lot this year. It has weakened our world, but I’m discovering how strong my kids are. I’ve never lost a parent at the age of 16, so when I’m looking at my daughter, I know there are things I can’t understand,” says Ken.

“All of these things HWF is doing are keeping us going and giving us faith. My children continue to fight through their education. I’m proud of them and I’m so grateful for the miracle the charity is doing for us.”

  • To donate to HWF’s Family Fund Campaign, click here.

  • Families of healthcare workers who have lost a loved one due to Covid and would like to inquire about the support available through the Family Fund should email

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Care home nurse’s family try to recover after losing her to Covid | NHS

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