Scottish care home crisis ‘failure of devolved government’

The handling of the coronavirus in Scottish care homes has been branded ‘the single greatest failure of devolved government’.

A report out today (20 May) by the think tank Common Weal claims that the tragedy was ‘not only predictable’ and that the ‘deeply flawed’ Scottish Government response in the first eight weeks of the crisis led directly to ‘many unnecessary deaths’.

In particular, the report argues that the Care Inspectorate was incapable of bringing care homes up to the standard required by the COVID-19 crisis and poor-quality care is embedded in the system.

The think tank says the result is that the result is that six out of 10 care homes in Scotland have had a case of COVID-19 and about 45 per cent still have a current case, as of 18 May.

Plus 7.4 per cent of care home staff have been absent with Covid compared to just 4.0 per cent of NHS staff.

The report also argues has been a continuing decline in trained medical staff and a rise in unfilled nursing vacancies over the last few years, and there is little formal training for infection control for non-medical staff in care homes.

In addition, it claims the mental wellbeing of residents was not made a priority, with people being locked in rooms alone for indefinite periods, with some being told or knowing that they would be likely to die before seeing family members again.

It goes on to say while individual care homes and staff will have done the best they can, no guidance on quality of life was provided.

Last weekend, the Scottish Government has announced new oversight arrangements for care homes, which are north of the border.

From Monday (18 May), clinical and care professionals at NHS boards and local authorities had a lead role in the oversight for care homes in their area.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said the Common Weal report ‘paints a wholly misleading picture’.

‘In early March we issued clinical and practice guidance for care homes setting out the clinical and practical steps to be taken,’ said the spokesman.

‘That guidance was then updated on 26 March, and again on 15 May.  Each iteration is a reflection of our growing understanding of the virus and of the situation on the ground.

‘On 1 May, the first minister announced enhanced outbreak investigations in care homes and on 17 May the cabinet secretary for health and sport introduced enhanced clinical and professional oversight for all care homes in Scotland.

‘We have taken a number of other steps such as direct delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a stepped increase in testing, with the introduction from next week of testing for all care home staff, and emergency legislation to ensure continuity of care in the event of a care home failing.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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