Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, has warned the Scottish Government that lives will continue to be lost in care homes until it delivers a robust and thorough action plan for fighting Covid-19 in our care homes. She has raised grave concerns that lives could have been saved, had care home staff been provided with proper PPE, and there had been testing of staff and residents. People have been dying since March.
West Dunbartonshire has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time last week, more Covid-19 related deaths occurred in West Dunbartonshire care homes than in hospitals. West Dunbartonshire has one of the highest Covid-19 death figures for per head of the population.
On 4 April, the sad news emerged that much-loved Dumbarton care home staff member, Catherine Sweeney, had passed away from Covid-19. Jackie Baillie shared her condolences with Catherine’s family and loved ones and called on the Scottish Government to immediately provide all care home and social care staff with a full supply of PPE and for all symptomatic staff and residents to be tested and cared for accordingly.
It then emerged that HC One’s privately run Castle View care home in Dumbarton had seen ten deaths in eleven days. The GMB union and Jackie Baillie were contacted on 6 April by staff who shared testimonies that PPE was locked away in cupboards with managers saying that protection was not needed. Jackie Baillie called for an immediate investigation into the conduct of Castle View management and urged the Scottish Government to make PPE wearing compulsory within Scotland’s care homes.
On 19th April, Jackie Baillie was approached by staff members at Crosslet House care home in Dumbarton. She was informed that fifteen residents at Crosslet House had died of suspected Covid-19 in less than a month. She was subsequently contacted by numerous family members and staff raising serious concerns as to the homes handling of the crisis. Despite this, senior care home managers were telling families and staff that the home was ‘Covid-free’, no testing of residents had taken place and staff had not been given the PPE needed to protect both themselves and their patients from the virus. Once again, Jackie Baillie raised concerns with the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, and action was then taken to increase testing of residents.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“The timeline of how Covid-19 has torn through our local care homes highlights a consistent failing from the Scottish Government to act. Social care workers, family members and trade unions have been calling for urgent action to be taken for months now.
“The Scottish Government has not acted quickly enough and has not listened to cries for help from frontline staff, and as a result, the death toll has risen. There are serious questions to answer. I do welcome the changes that have been made but, for the families who have already lost loved ones, this action is too little too late.
“As ever, my thanks go to the incredibly hard-working staff in the social care sector who are trying to care for and protect residents in impossible circumstances. My deepest sympathies go to the families of those who have sadly passed away. I hope that the Scottish Government acts fast to ensure that more families do not have to go through the same experience and we afford our older people in care homes the dignity and respect they deserve.”