Last week, in light of national statistics and international clinical evidence Scottish Care called for an extension of Covid-19 testing and the use of face protection in care services. We welcomed the decision of the Scottish Government to implement testing extensions for all care home residents and staff where a case of COVID-19 is identified as well as wider and more regular precautionary testing for monitoring purposes. We continue to call for the testing of all care home residents and staff as the optimum measure to enhance prevention and safety.
As we so sadly continue to see, care homes are being hit extremely hard by this virus and we need to constantly review and revise our national approach to best support residents, relatives and staff. Distressingly, we may still not have reached the peak of the virus in care homes and anything that can be done to protect individuals and services and reduce risk of infection spread and deaths must be implemented with urgency.
As knowledge and advice in relation to the virus develops, we are seeing particular spread risks associated with pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.
That is why we are again calling for a change to national guidance so that all staff in care homes and providing care at home – regardless of role, Covid status or proximity to others – wear face protection in order to reduce the transmission of the virus.
If it is appropriate for face protection to be worn when citizens go shopping then it seems even more important that face protection is worn when providing support of any nature to individuals who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. This includes the use of face masks when within a two-metre distance and when providing direct care and support, regardless of Covid status.
This approach can help to minimise asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spread of the virus and provide some additional assurances to understandably worried residents, relatives and staff. We acknowledge that some Health & Social Care Partnerships have implemented this approach but it is crucial that we see a consistent, unambiguous national directive in this regard.
We recognise that for services which do not normally require masks for this level of use, this will be a massive increase in demand for PPE. It will be necessary for supply challenges and increased, unsustainable costs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
We also recognise the challenges posed by supporting people with dementia, hearing impairment and other conditions which can mean that the constant wearing of face coverings can cause additional distress. Scottish Care remains committed to working with providers and partner organisations to ensure a ‘new care normal’ can be developed which recognises both the urgent need to protect life as well as to promote and sustain quality of life.
5 May 2020