Scotland’s largest care home provider has laid bare the horrific toll of Covid-19 on their facilities which has resulted in 41 deaths and costs of more than £500,000.
The Perth-based Balhousie Care Group, which has homes across Tayside and Fife, revealed the devastating impact of the virus on their staff and residents.
Bosses of the care group have warned that living with Covid-19 is the “new normal” and detailed the stress and anxiety employees have felt during the pandemic.
Balhousie have seen outbreaks at 10 of their 26 facilities in the past year – with North Inch Care Home in Perth suffering multiple positive cases as recently as mid-February.
Nine residents died at Balhousie Lisden in Kirriemuir last summer after testing positive for coronavirus.
One care worker at the facility, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It was emotional coming home after work.
“I was scared for my family and felt I was putting them at risk being around them and working in the care home.
“But the hardest thing was the decline in the residents after contracting the virus.
“It was like a domino effect.”
Jill Kerr, group chief executive officer, insisted that every resident the care group had lost had an underlying health condition and she remained proud of her staff’s efforts during the crisis.
“It has hit the whole Balhousie family hard and that’s something that continues as we all adapt to the fact that dealing with this deadly virus is our new normal,” said Jill.
“Ten of our 26 homes have had Covid-positive cases but the emotional toll on residents, staff and relatives across all of our homes has been huge.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how staff have stepped up to the enormous stress, extra work and responsibilities the pandemic has thrown at them.
“Despite all of this, they have put their residents first above all else.”
Bosses at the care group believe costs related to Covid are estimated at around an extra £500,000.
The expenditure includes PPE, new thermal imaging cameras, cleaning equipment, private Covid tests, and extra staff hours.
Jill called for more care homes to be transparent with how the pandemic has impacted the sector.
She said: “The public and politicians need to understand more fully what we as care home operators have been through and continue to go through and how the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped our sector forever.”
Tony Banks, chairman of Balhousie added: “Some words and actions of support from politicians for care homes is needed too.
“Our reputations have suffered hugely this last year.
“It’s time for the governments, both Scottish and national, to invest in a campaign to boost public confidence in care homes, much as they have done with their campaign to promote the NHS.”