Enhanced support to help Fife’s care homes through the coronavirus pandemic will continue until November.
The assurance from the region’s health and social care partnership comes amid concerns the roll-out of the Scottish Government test and protect policy could impact on care home staffing levels if workers are required to isolate.
Test and protect is a key part of the government’s measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 and requires anybody who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive to self-isolate for 14 days.
Several employees in close contact with each other could be asked to self-isolate at the same time.
Partnership director Nicky Connor said a bank of staff and trained volunteers is standing ready to step in to provide emergency staffing at any home where employees are unable to work.
The bank includes a specialist nursing team with experience of dementia care.
“Covid has had an impact on staff absence, not just staff having symptoms but staff who are shielding,” she said.
“For the foreseeable future, test and protect will have an impact on that.”
She added: ““Staff absence has improved over recent weeks, with more staff returning to work after having been tested and symptom free.
“We have established a bank of staff and also trained volunteers who can step in and support when needed.”
So far, 26 of Fife’s 37 care homes have reported cases of covid-19 although the number of residents suspected of contracting the virus – 105 – is among the lowest in Scotland.
It is thought the level of support provided, plus the introduction of rapid testing for symptomatic residents and workers, may have helped prevent the illness from spreading further.
By June 7, 763 staff and 372 residents had been tested for Covid-19.
The help on offer was significantly stepped up in early May after it emerged 54 people had died of coronavirus in care homes across the region.
It includes support with PPE and increased training and education for staff.
Fife’s director of public health Dona Milne said a team was in daily contact with care homes to offer support and additional staff where needed.
“We’re taking this very seriously,” she said.
“We are trying to work with care homes in a supportive manner, putting in place any extra support they need and delivering the Scottish Government policy requirements at the same time.”
Director of nursing Helen Buchanan added: “We do anything we can to help them through this period of covid and that will be in place until November.
“We can quickly mobilise specialist nursing staff to help them.”