There is international recognition that care homes are particularly vulnerable to the threat of Coronavirus. Sadly, the international statistics show that between 42 and 52% of all fatalities are likely to have been individuals who have been care home residents.
This makes it imperative that we have a clear strategy to reduce the threat and address the risks which Covid-19 poses for our care home population. Therefore, in light of international clinical evidence and measures announced in both Northern Ireland and England, Scottish Care is today calling for the following:
1. When a Covid-19 case is diagnosed in any care home that all residents and staff are immediately tested. This would enable appropriate action to be taken on isolation and nursing for residents and for staff to self-isolate. This will inevitably require additional staffing support for those care homes which are most affected.
2. All staff in care homes and providing care at home regardless of direct care roles should wear face masks in order to reduce the transmission of the virus. If it is appropriate for face protection to be worn when citizens go shopping then within a care facility it seems equally important that face masks are worn when not in direct contact and that adequate face masks are worn within a two-metre distance. We recognise that for services which do not normally wear such masks this will be a massive increase in demand for PPE. It will be necessary for these increased costs to be addressed as a matter of urgency or care providers risk going out of business during this pandemic.
3. That steps are put in place to develop a strategy whereby staff and residents in those care homes which have thus far have had no cases are fully tested.
We recognise that tests can be distressing for individuals living with dementia but those care staff who know them well will help to provide comfort and reassurance at a time when such steps are critical in the challenge which Coronavirus is posing to those accessing care and support and those working in the sector.