Media Statement: Covid-19 Deaths in Care Homes

We note the publication by the BBC of data supplied by the Crown Office detailing the deaths of hundreds of people in Scotland’s care homes during the pandemic. This data demonstrates the terrible toll which has been felt by those who live, visit loved ones, and work in care homes as a result of Coronavirus. However, whilst the numbers tell us one story there are many things which they do not communicate.

The numbers do not describe the unique lives of special individuals who have been lost to the pandemic. Lives which have been cut short before their time by a deadly virus. Behind each number is an individual who is loved and greatly missed by family and friends. Their loss is felt too by care home staff who have cared for and supported them for many months and years.

The numbers do not describe the sad reality that those living in group and congregated settings such as care homes have been disproportionately affected across the world. They do not describe the reality that those who have suffered the most and who have died across the world are those who are very old and frail, and those living with multiple co-morbidities.

The numbers do not describe at what point in the pandemic lives were lost in individual care homes. The number may describe deaths in multiple outbreaks across a long period of time or they may equally be a description of an intense and overwhelming single incident.

The numbers do not detail at what point of time the deaths occurred in the last year. They do not describe whether they happened after testing had been introduced for frontline care staff after we learned the lessons of asymptomatic spread and the risk this posed to residents.

The numbers do not describe whether individuals had been transferred from hospital or community, potentially carrying the virus into the care home.

The numbers do not describe whether or not the deaths occurred at a time when we know less than we do now about the use of PPE and other infection control measures which are now protecting so many.

The numbers do not describe whether these deaths happened during this particularly hard second wave with a much more virulent strain of the virus which has had such a devastating impact.

The numbers of deaths tell part of the story but what they certainly do not tell of is the amazing professionalism, sacrifice and dedication of frontline nursing and care staff who daily put themselves at risk and on the line to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens facing the threat of this deadly global virus.

As we consider the numbers, we remember all the lives lost and the dedication of those who worked to save life. As we consider the numbers, we would ask everyone to reach out to support the care homes, staff, residents and families affected and to do so with compassion and solidarity.

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Essentials of Safe Care Webinar – 29 April

The Patient Safety Programme(SPSP) has now published the Essentials of safe care (EOSC) so we have decided to have a follow up webinar to put this in context as we move into the implementation period. Supporting this is the EOSC package which provides a range of resources people can access including a website housing all of the essentials information, a measurement framework and case studies available here ihub.scot/spsp

This webinar session will take place on Thursday 29 April at 2PM.

The Essentials of Safe Care support health and social teams to deliver safe care for every person, every time.

This session aims to

  • provide an overview of this package of guidance and support,
  • explore how it can benefit your service, both service users and staff,
  • hear from teams about how they plan to use it, and
  • describe the system to support implementation and learning

This webinar will be hosted by our Transforming Workforce Lead for Nursing, Jacqui Neil who will be joined by:

  • Jo Matthews (Healthcare Improvement Scotland)
  • Nancy Burns  (Healthcare Improvement Scotland)
  • Sarah Battersby (Advinia Healthcare)
  • Kate McConville (Advinia Healthcare)

Please note that this webinar will be a in a Teams meeting format to allow speakers to interact with attendees. 

Details to join this webinar will be available shortly on the Members Area of this website.

Save the date – Nursing Event (24 June)

We will be hosting a virtual nursing event on 24th June from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

This event will look at the future vision for health and social care nursing. We have a full programme of speakers including presentations from frontline staff, and representation from professional bodies: NMC around the new standards and RCN in supporting revalidation. We also have a panel session that centres around education and leadership, in supporting our future leaders.

The event will be supported by the CNO, the Scottish Government, as well as the Chief Nurse with the Care Inspectorate.

More details to follow.

If you have any questions on this event, please contact our Transforming Workforce Lead for Nursing, Jacqui Neil at [email protected].

Financial Sustainability Webinar – 22 April

Sustainability Payments and related payments such as the Social Care Support Fund are crucial for services to carry on in the fight against Covid-19.

Scottish Care has been gathering information from the members at our weekly surgery meetings, as well as reporting on a regular basis to Cosla. It was noted there are many ongoing questions and concerns members have about these payments.

We have arranged a webinar update on Financial Sustainability on Thursday 22 April at 2PM  with colleagues from COSLA and the Scottish Government.

We are delighted to be joined by:

  • Mirren Kelly (COSLA)
  • Clare Thomas (COSLA)
  • Catherine McGoldrick (Health and Social Care Scotland)

This session is for Scottish Care members only. Please join this session to ask any questions or raise any issues you may have.

Details to join will be available on the Members Area of this website. If you have any issues accessing this area, please contact [email protected].

If you have any questions for the webinar panellists, please email [email protected].

International Nurses Day – week of celebration 6-12 May

As you will be aware next month celebrates International Nurses Day and this year’s theme is innovation, in recognition of the dramatic changes that staff have had to make during the pandemic.

As such we want to celebrate not only the 12th May for International Nurses Day but the week leading up to this from the 6th May. We want to promote the innovative practice of frontline staff through positive stories from the care sector.

I know many staff went above and beyond during the last year and continue to. It is important you have the opportunity to celebrate this and help support the sharing of good practice, inspiring others to think differently to ensure positive change.

So please get in touch at [email protected] if you want to be part of the celebration.

I look forward to hearing from you and making this week a celebration of care.

 

Jacqui Neil

Transforming Workforce Lead for Nursing

@TransformNurse

Scottish Parliamentary Elections – Care Hustings – 21 Apr

Scottish Care is pleased to host a virtual hustings forum on Wednesday 21st April from 13:00 – 14:00 ahead of Scottish Parliamentary Elections on May 6th.

At the event, we will be joined by political party health representatives of the major parties who have existing parliamentary seats. Confirmed attendees include:

  • Donald Cameron – Conservative
  • Jackie Baillie – Labour
  • Alison Johnstone – Green
  • Fulton McGregor -SNP
  • Alex Cole-Hamilton – Liberal Democrats

Each party representative will be invited to briefly share their perspectives on social care, reflecting on the past year and priorities for the next Parliament.  We will then hold an open Q and A session. This is your opportunity to quiz prospective parliamentarians on matters that concern you most.

Social Care has never been such a prominent issue in an election. Scottish Care has published our own Care Manifesto which centres on the call in the Independent Review of Adult Social Care for a Social Care Covenant – an agreement of and for social care that places the dignity of individuals at the heart of decision-making and at the forefront of a more inclusive social care future.

The session will be an open, online event and requires registration. It will be moderated by Scottish Care CEO, Dr Donald Macaskill. Please sign up at the following link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIldu-vqTkiGd02SpW-u30jCV9HoQmSpEc6

For further information on this event please contact: [email protected]

We look forward to seeing you there!

Twitter hashtag: #carehusting

Experiences from a student and front-line care worker

"...always look after yourself first because I have found if I’m not feeling fit and well then I can't carry out my job as effectively when caring for those who need us most."

We are delighted to present a Q & A style blog from Becca, a Health and Social Care student who has been working front-line as a care worker. 

In this blog, she shares her experiences of being a student whilst working in the social care sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Huge thanks to Becca for sharing this with us!


Hi everyone! My name is Becca, I am currently a 4th-year student at the University of the West of Scotland studying Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Integrated Health and Social Care. Alongside my studies, I am a mentee with Scottish Care, with the lovely Karen Hedge as my mentor through the Employer Mentoring Programme within the university. Outside of my studies, I am currently a care assistant within a local care home in Ayrshire, providing specialist care for individuals who are living with dementia and other mental health conditions. I have been working in this role for over seven years, two years as a community care assistant and five years within the care home setting. 

What are the benefits and challenges of being a student and working on the front line as a care assistant?

For myself, the benefit of being a student and working on the front line as a care assistant in a care home setting allows me to plan and organise my diary for student life and working life. Although my planning and organisation skills are quite good, I had to work on them even further to ensure I was participating in my online classes. Because we had to work from home as well as help at work with extra shifts to cover for people shielding or experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. The challenges I have been faced with when being a student during this pandemic is being stuck in four walls for my classes, alone facing a laptop with the rest of my class. It has been difficult as I love socialising with others, meeting up with my friends and grabbing a coffee from the café within the university. I have not been able to do any of that since March 2020 and because of this, it has had an impact on my mental health. The challenge I face at work is wearing the face mask when caring for people who are living with dementia and the majority of these individuals are living with advanced dementia. They often don’t understand why we are wearing masks and often would like us to take them off because they miss our ‘smiles’ when we see them, or they can’t tell us apart from each other. This has become a challenge because it upsets myself and work colleagues to see our residents become distressed and upset with having us in masks when they are so used to seeing us with smiles and could tell us apart in their own way.

 How has Covid-19 impacted my learning and job role?

Covid-19 has impacted my learning because I enjoy bouncing ideas off my class peers and lectures over a coffee and participating in class discussions. I feel it isn’t the same when behind a keyboard and quite often I find myself confused or stuck on something to do with my course work which leads to me becoming stressed because I don’t have that environment to work with others. Sometimes I have managed to book a ‘study space’ within the university and meet up with one class peer, which has helped not only myself but my class peer as well because it is not just myself that has struggled through this. Covid-19 has impacted my job because where we were able to hug our residents when they were upset, now we must wear PPE including face masks on which often scared our residents, and they did not want to come near us because they did not know who we were behind the mask. Closing our doors to visitors and family members was heartbreaking because our residents would look out for their families and they could not understand where they were. With no visits being permitted in the home, often colleagues and I would witness a decline in our residents, which was heartbreaking to see, and I personally think the lack of social interaction from families contributed to that. 

What have I learned from this experience?

From this experience, I have learned to keep your loved ones close even after the pandemic is over. This experience has taught me to ensure I check in with friends and family to make sure they are doing ok and if they need anything, especially my grandpa. It has taught me to plan and organise my time effectively between my student life and my work life so I don’t become overwhelmed with everything that is happening around us. It is vital that you look after your own mental wellbeing especially in these dark times, I often speak to myself and practice deep breathing exercises when I feel I am becoming a bit overwhelmed with everything. I have also found self-care days have been very beneficial in my own mental wellbeing and this has been developed since having this experience of the pandemic as I would not have normally done this prior to Covid-19.

What advice would I give to future people if this happens again? 

The advice I would give to anyone who is struggling through this pandemic or find ourselves back in a similar situation is to look after yourself and speak to someone if you find you are coping. Mental health is so important, and everyone should live a positive, healthy life no matter the age you are. If you are a student and working on the front line like myself, then my advice is to ensure you plan things as best as you can, it might not go the way you want it but if you have routine and plan things to become less overwhelmed and always … I mean always look after yourself first because I have found if I’m not feeling fit and well then I can’t carry out my job as effectively when caring for those who need us most.

Supporting families and friends of those in care homes webinar with Alzheimer Scotland – 15 April

We will be joined by colleagues from Alzheimer Scotland in this webinar session to guide care home members in supporting families and friends of residents as the new Open with Care visiting guidance comes into place. You can find out more about Alzheimer Scotland’s work in this below.

This webinar will take place on Thursday 15 April 2021 at 3PM, our CEO Dr Donald Macaskill will be joined by Jim Pearson (Director of Policy & Research) and Lorna Hart-Thomson (Action on Rights Team Lead) from Alzheimer Scotland.

Details to join this webinar session will be available on the Members Area of this website. 

Alzheimer Scotland has established a new Action on Rights team, funded by the Scottish Government. Throughout the pandemic, their frontline staff and 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline have been immersed in supporting people deal with the impact of the lockdown measures. Much of this support has been assisting people with relatives living in care homes. This has involved helping people understand the evolving care home visiting guidance, and in some cases helping to facilitate visits or meaningful contact with loved ones. During this time, they have also continued to support thousands of people with dementia and their families and carers living at home, through a combination of therapeutic interventions, online groups, wellbeing calls and home visits. This new team will build on all of their existing support and provides an extra level of dedicated support for those families with loved ones living in care homes.

The Action on Rights team will support implementation of the Scottish Government’s new Open with Care visiting guidance for care homes and offer emotional and practical support to families and friends of people living in care homes and who are experiencing high levels of anxiety and trauma as a result of the lack of meaningful contact. The Action on Rights team will be able to provide advice on the new care home visiting guidance and help families have informed discussions with the care home staff who are responsible for arranging care home visits. If needed, the team will liaise with care home staff to help facilitate meaningful visits (within any relevant restrictions) and essential visits. The team will work with families to help arrange meaningful contact in a way that avoids, or when necessary, resolves conflict.

More details on the Action on Rights team can be found here. This service is available to anyone who has a relative or friend who is resident in a care home in Scotland. You can access the Action on Rights team by calling the 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000 or emailing [email protected].

Scottish Care Nursing Survey 2021

Dear colleague

I am excited to present the 2021 Scottish Care Nursing Survey. This year more than ever, it is paramount that we get the views of our nursing workforce and managers. I appreciate times remain challenging, but I hope you are as determined as we are to make your voices heard. We have a real opportunity to give social care nursing the spotlight it deserves if we work together.

Thank you all in advance for your time in completing this survey.

Survey deadline: 30 April

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/nursingsurvey2021

Kind regards,

Jacqui Neil
Transforming Workforce Lead for Nursing

Scottish Care Manifesto 2021

Scottish Care is publishing our Manifesto April 07, 2021 with our key priorities for the next Government, ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary Elections on May 06, 2021.

Our Manifesto echoes the call in the Feeley report for a Social Care Covenant – an agreement of and for social care that places the dignity of individuals at the heart of decision-making and at the forefront of a more inclusive social care future that recognises its distinctive role in supporting the wellbeing of individuals to live an independent and healthy life of their choice.

Given the particular hardships faced by the care home and home care sectors in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have considered the areas in which those accessing care, the workforce and providers would benefit most. We must consider the support that people need as we recover from the effects of the pandemic and how we can deliver that given the new challenges as Scotland exits lockdown.

We have outlined eight areas of focus where we present a future change landscape for social care in Scotland. The Manifesto shares the key areas of focus with accompanying actions towards realising a positive future for the independent social care sector in Scotland.

The Manifesto was developed with input from our members, partners and people who use social care supports. We thank them for their involvement in this work.

Karen Hedge, National Director says:

“We are at a standpoint for social care. The pandemic has highlighted the potential of the sector; the agility of our providers and the dedication and skill of our workforce. This, coupled with the Review of Adult Social Care, has changed parameters and expectations of the sector making the forthcoming election a critical opportunity to address the 8 areas of focus outlined by Scottish Care in their Social Care Covenant, so that we can get this right for the people of Scotland.”