Scottish Care welcomes the announcement today from the Scottish Government about enabling meaningful access for families into care homes.
The last year has been one of very real pain and anguish for both residents, families and staff in Scotland’s care homes. No one wants to keep people apart and care homes have always had a tradition of making sure that families can be with their relatives who are residents in our care homes. The pandemic and the protective measures which were put in place by Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland, stopped that natural and normal contact.
Scottish Care will work with all parties to make sure that we implement the new Guidelines in a supportive and enabling manner and to do so as urgently and speedily as possible.
However as a body representing many care homes across Scotland, we are very aware of the very real fear and anxiety which exists around opening up care homes. There are hundreds of care home staff and managers who are really fearful and anxious about allowing the virus in. This is especially the case in care homes where there have been outbreaks and sadly deaths. In addition care homes are aware that there are many relatives who themselves are anxious of the virus coming in and who have to date decided not to visit. We need to support everyone to overcome fear and anxiety.
We believe the new Guidelines will offer a way forward which will help re-connect people and that with the hope given by vaccination, appropriate use of PPE, IPC measures and critically a robust and frequent testing system we believe safer visiting is possible. We are, we believe, in a very different position than where we were in the earlier stages of the pandemic.
Scottish Care is committed to supporting our members to ensure that each care home is helped to enact these new measures. We appreciate that this will add additional pressure on frontline staff but believe that this is an absolutely critical step which we all must take. We call on all involved to show understanding and flexibility as these new measures bed in. We hope each care home will work to enable visiting on an individual care home level and not adopt blanket policies.
We fully appreciate the necessity to act speedily yet safely on this issue. We have worked hard to protect and to reduce the risk of infection, but we also fully acknowledge the risks to life and quality of life which have arisen from separation from family. We must all work to restore contact.
We therefore will work to build confidence, reduce fear and to make sure care homes can be open to safe meaningful contact.
Scottish Care is privileged to have been involved in this innovative project with Luminate and film maker Duncan Cowles
‘Directed by North Merchiston’ is a series of short films by Duncan Cowles in conjunction with residents of Four Seasons’ North Merchiston care home in Edinburgh.
The project was the brainchild of Duncan Cowles, a BAFTA Scotland Award winning documentary filmmaker. He said:
“One of the biggest issues for older generations today is loneliness. I wanted to give the residents of North Merchiston Care Home a voice. So, instead of me coming in with my camera and making films about the people living there, I wanted the residents to think of themselves as the filmmakers and develop the stories they’d personally like to tell.”
The project was commissioned by Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival, and was supported by Scottish Care. The films had their first screening in front of North Merchiston residents, families, staff and project partners as part of the Luminate festival in October. Some of the films were also shown at Scottish Care’s annual Care Home Conference in November 2016.
**Please note, one of the films (Keep Your Eyes Open and Your Mouth Shut) can only be viewed by entering a password on the Vimeo site. To be sent the password, please contact [email protected] **
The Scottish Government is currently gathering views on draft Fire Safety Guidance for Specialised Housing (and other supported domestic accommodation) and will use the responses to further develop and refine the guidance. The consultation is open until 22 October 2019.
Scottish Care will be submitting a response on behalf of members and want to ensure this is grounded in the views and experiences of providers. If you have comments you would like included in the response, please contact Swaran Rakhra by email or phone by Friday 18 October. We also encourage members to submit their own responses where appropriate.
What is this consultation about?
This Fire Safety Guidance has been drafted to deliver on the sixth recommendation from the Review of the Fire Safety Regime for High Rise Domestic Buildings in Scotland. The Review’s other recommendations relate to fire safety in high rise domestic buildings and were agreed by the Scottish Government Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety that was set up following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. The sixth recommendation “Introduction of Scottish guidance concerning fire safety in specialised housing” is not specific to high rise domestic buildings but also agreed by the Ministerial Working Group.
Why Specialised Housing and supported domestic accommodation?
The Scottish fire regime review found there are no major gaps in the Scottish legislation but it did identify a lack of guidance related to the consideration of the needs of vulnerable people. It advocated a “person-centred” approach to meet the needs of all individuals that may need additional help in terms of fire safety.
What is Specialised Housing and what else does the guidance apply to?
Most specialised housing is provided for older people, who, with advancing age, may require a degree of care and support. This includes sheltered and very sheltered or extra-care housing. Other forms of specialised housing have evolved for people with specific needs, including housing for adults with physical, sensory, mental health or cognitive impairments who live, to varying degrees, independently within the community in group home environments. In some cases, such residents may require significant care and support (known collectively as “supported housing”).
It is also recognised that some people will be receiving home care services in what might be referred to as “general needs” housing. Therefore, the guidance has been drafted with a “person-centred” approach and aims to meet the needs of all individuals that may need additional help in terms of fire safety in the home. The guidance is also applicable to very small, domestic care homes, akin to supported housing.
Who is this consultation for?
The Guidance is primarily to be used by people that provide the housing or care/support services, and those regulators who ensure resident and tenant safety is adequately addressed. However, everyone who lives in specialised housing (or other supported domestic accommodation) and those with fire safety responsibilities are encouraged to respond to the consultation. This includes:
• Residents / tenants
• Independent/private sector housing providers
• Housing associations
• Local authority housing providers
• Managing agents or facilities managers
• Care and support providers
• Local authority service commissioners
• Enforcement Officers in local housing authorities
• Enforcement Officers and Community Safety staff of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
• Advice agencies
• Consultants/contractors carrying out fire safety risk assessments
• Other people with responsibility for Fire Safety
• Anyone else with views including relatives of people who live in specialised housing
The consultation documents and questions can be accessed here: https://consult.gov.scot/fire-and-rescue/fire-safety-guidance-specialised-housing/