One of Scotland’s leading care home operators has called on Holyrood to provide weekly Covid-19 tests for relatives visiting loved ones.
The founder and chairman of Renaissance Care, Robert Kilgour has written to the Scottish health minister Jeane Freeman to request weekly testing of all nominated visitors.
‘It’s the only way to make sure that relatives do not become unwitting carriers of coronavirus into care homes and we can see no reason why the government would not support this essential step,’ said Mr Kilgour.
Earlier this week, the Scottish Government introduced new guidelines for Scotland’s care home sector and the English care minister, Helen Whately revealed Whitehall is planning to trial a scheme where relatives of care home residents will be treated as ‘key workers’ with access to PPE and testing.
‘Tragically, Scotland’s care home sector saw a higher proportion of coronavirus deaths than elsewhere in the UK, partly caused by people with coronavirus being transferred from hospitals into care homes without being tested, in order to free up beds in hospitals,’ said Mr Kilgour.
‘These lessons must be learned if we are to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Once Covid-19 gets into a care home, it is incredibly difficult to stop it spreading. In many cases, the R number in care homes affected by Covid-19 is as high as 10, and that’s within a population which everyone knows is acutely at risk.
‘The Scottish Government’s plan to increase the frequency of visitors is a very laudable one but it must be accompanied by the essential safeguard of coronavirus testing on a weekly basis, otherwise I fear relatives will become unwitting Trojan Horses for coronavirus, with devastating consequences,’ he added.
The care home operator’s calls were welcomed by Age UK Scotland’s chief executive, Brian Sloan.
‘We are really pleased that Renaissance Care are keen to see visiting resume and we support their calls for family members to be included in a national testing programme,’ said Mr Sloan.
‘It’s a practical, proportionate and sensible step which will ensure that these visits are a source of joy, rather than something which causes additional stress to residents and staff.’
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