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.