VIRUS: HOW ARE OUR COUNCIL CARE HOMES COPING?

Given yesterday’s news that 15 residents of Crosslet House had died in the past fortnight, we have decided to re-publish this article which appeared in The Democrat on Good Friday, April 10. Nearly 4000 people read our report yesterday, which is a record readership for a single day.

By Bill Heaney

Concern is widespread throughout Scotland about how local authority care homes are coping with the pandemic.
However, The Democrat is banned from asking West Dunbartonshire Council or anyone in the SNP that very important question.
It was raised in parliament by LibDem leader Willie Rennie during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.
Mr Rennie said: “I am concerned about the situation in care homes that the First Minister has been talking about [lack of PPE and Do Not Resuscitate notices].
He added: “Residents are vulnerable, and the staff are essential, so we owe it to them all to get it right. Even though care homes are in lockdown, people are still being admitted to them.
“Some care homes are under considerable pressure to admit new residents from hospital without the necessary information to determine whether they are free from the virus.
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NO ANSWER WAS THE LOUD REPLY FROM THE COUNCIL

Dumbarton Care Home Crosslet House. We intended to ask West Dunbartonshire  Council and Cllr Jonathan McColl, leader of the SNP administration, if they if they are content that they decided to close community care homes in the town and replace them with one large establishment at “the back of beyond” at Crosslet. Or to tell the public, who pay their community charges, what the current situation is there and at other council run homes and how they are coping. And, of course,  to answer similar questions to those which were asked in parliament.
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“How can we ensure that care homes get the information and the support that they need from the NHS, to keep all our residents safe?

“Secondly, if a care home resident catches the virus, the best place to treat them might still be in that home.

“That should not mean that they are deprived of the right healthcare—everyone else gets that.

“Does the NHS have the capacity and the capability for primary and secondary care to be delivered in care homes to give people the best chance of recovery.”

The First Minister replied: “Yes, the NHS is equipped to deal with the situation. The NHS is under incredible pressure—it will be increasing pressure—but we have been reorganising how it works in order to ensure that it can deal with the coronavirus challenge.

“That is about caring for and treating patients when they need it and in the best way possible.”

She added: “On care homes, it is appropriate for them to admit residents if it is safe for them to do so. The Care Inspectorate is working closely with care homes to make sure that they have the right advice and support, and that any issues or concerns are flagged up and can be addressed.

“What matters most are the infection control measures that are in place in care homes.

“At a very early stage of the epidemic, guidance was sent to care homes about how they should be caring for their residents. Unfortunately, for a lot of residents in care homes right now, that involves isolation in their own rooms and not having the communal activities that they are used to. The situation is really tough for them, as well as for the population generally.

“We are looking to the Care Inspectorate to have an on-going supportive dialogue with care homes to help them manage through the crisis as well as they can.”

Willie Rennie told party leaders, who were participating in the first ever live streaming of a sitting of parliament, that “on the one hand, people are finding new ways to connect with each other and help in their community, and many are enthusiastically embracing their daily exercise.

“On the other hand, I am concerned about the impact on people’s mental health from isolation and the trauma that our health and social care workers are being exposed.

“We cannot wait until all this is over before we start to address those issues. Can we put in place mental health counselling for all NHS and social care staff right now? Is that possible?”

FM 6Nicola Sturgeon, left,  said: “From the outset, I have been acutely aware of the impact on people’s mental health from the stresses of living through a situation such as the one that we are in, the changes to people’s lives and the fact that people cannot see others who they are used to seeing, such as grandkids, grandparents and other family members.

“There are additional burdens, challenges and stresses on our front-line health and care workers.

A couple of weeks ago, I think, we announced additional funding to expand the NHS 24 telephone and the online services that people can access, and we have given additional funding to expand the Breathing Space service. We are trying to build up the capacity of the services that already exist.

“I give an assurance that the issue is high on our priority list because, not just in the immediate phase of dealing with the current situation but, I suspect, for a long time afterwards, we will be dealing with a mental health legacy, and we need to ensure that there are services to provide the help that people need.

“It is a question of expanding access to counselling now and looking ahead to ensure that there are appropriate services in future.”

SNP administered West Dunbartonshire Council, the council leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl, the MP Martin Docherty Hughes and the council’s communications department refuse to answer questions from The Democrat, which they have banned and boycotted.

One comment

  1. Of course no comment is going to be given about anything.

    Eleven deaths in ten days in one home and not one word from the council or the council administration.
    Complaints about lack of PPE to frontline council workers and again absolutely no response.

    Not slow however are the Council when the £500k media unit are cranking out good news stories with smiling councilors all round.

    No one doubts that this is a crisis that could have been mitigated if the Scottish Government had not gone along with the Boris Johnson government policy of spreading the virus in a flawed policy to create herd immunity and protect the economy at the expense of few pensioners dying.

    So let’s ask the big question again. Why did the Scottish Government go along with Boris Johnson government policy of spreading the virus until alternative thinking said that the policy would kill hundreds of thousands in a tidal wave of deaths.

    Albeit that we are now
    belatedly now trying to stop the virus spread through lockdown the initial policy has condemned many to die.

    But they knew that, and and they calously calculated the perceived economic benefit against who would die!

    But as Stanley Johnson father of Boris said yesterday….it’s time we began dealing with this pandemic seriously and started playing the game properly!

    And that coming from the father of the prime minister tells us something!

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