The Scottish Government has announced new powers to intervene in failing care homes following the death of 10 residents at a facility in Skye.
From Monday, clinical and care professionals at NHS boards and local authorities will take on a leading role in the oversight of care homes in their area.
The teams’ remit will include daily discussions about the quality of care in each home, with particular focus on implementation of infection prevention and control and the provision of expert clinical support to residents who have coronavirus.
The measures mean that if there is a “significant risk” to care home residents or “a provider was unable to continue to deliver care due to failure, Scottish ministers and public bodies have the power to intervene”.
The Scottish Government believes the new arrangement will “significantly strengthen” oversight and will “ensure clarity and consistency across the country” on the role of health boards and local authorities during the pandemic.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed amendments to the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill will be considered by the Scottish Parliament next week.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on Scotland’s social care services,” she said.
“It is of paramount importance that those using services, including residents of care homes and those supporting them, are provided with the best possible care – and the Scottish Government is doing everything in its power to ensure that is the case.
“All organisations including care providers are responsible for effective and safe care in their services and are expected to work closely together and at pace to give effect to these arrangements.
“While these are unprecedented times, everything possible must be done to protect care home residents and staff from the effects of Covid-19.”
Ms Freeman said she wants to assure staff, residents and families that a safe residential environment in care homes remains the Scottish Government’s “top priority”.
The Care Inspectorate last week submitted an application to the courts seeking the cancellation of the registration for Home Farm in Skye, where 10 residents have died.
A total of 45% of adult care homes are dealing with a current case of the virus, with 58% recording at least one case with the Care Inspectorate since the start of the epidemic.
Ms Freeman admitted there had been instances where care standards during the pandemic have “fallen short”.
She said the government was “actively looking” at whether or not to expand testing in care homes to all residents and staff.
Her comments came after Scottish Care chief executive Donald Macaskill told BBC Sunday Politics Scotland he agreed such practices should be in place.
The short paper ‘Coronavirus (Covid 19) – enhanced professional clinical and care oversight of care homes’ also highlights issues around testing and contact tracing with escalation measures in place if issues cannot be resolved.
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