A care home company which owns one of Scotland’s worst affected facilities in Angus has blamed delayed advice and testing for the spread of coronavirus.
Barchester chief executive Dr Pete Calveley said a lot of untested elderly people were discharged from hospitals and moved to homes early in the outbreak.
The UK-wide company runs South Grange Nursing Home in Monifieth, which has seen one of the highest death tolls north of the border.
The Courier’s own death notices show at least 17 residents have died at the facility since the end of March, although a staff member has claimed the toll is likely even higher.
When asked on BBC Radio 4 why so many deaths had occurred in care homes when it was known residents would be among the most vulnerable, Dr Calveley said the early advice was inadequate.
He said: “We had several weeks where their first reaction was to protect the NHS, where they wanted to discharge a lot of clients from hospitals to make sure there was enough capacity for what they anticipated was a surge.
“That meant a lot of people being discharged to care homes rather quickly who hadn’t been tested.
“Often we’ve seen where we’ve been doing large testing of care homes where asymptomatic staff, and particularly residents, are actually positive and therefore are freely moving through the home are infecting other residents and staff without anybody knowing about it until too late.”
He said there was a “critical period of two or three weeks” where testing was not available and homes had not been given advice for staff to wear face masks or to isolate patients in their rooms.
“None of that advice came out until probably it was too late,” he said.
“I don’t think anybody knew how many asymptomatic residents or patients and staff were actually testing positive.
“We’ve realised this since we’ve increased the testing to become mass testing of lots of care homes.”
South Grange provides 24-hour nursing care for elderly frail residents, as well as expert care for young clients with serious conditions.
These include people with acquired brain injuries, neurological disorders and residents who need to be ventilated.
Barchester has said it is not publicly disclosing how many positive cases or deaths there have been at individual care homes.
However Dr Calveley has said around two thirds of his homes have had Covid-19 cases.
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