Minister for older people Christina McKelvie owes them a grovelling apology, say LibDems
By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrats have today called for the Minister for older people to issue a grovelling apology after research from the party revealed that between March 2020 and January 2021, the minister made no physical or virtual visits to care homes and had attended just one meeting with care home staff, relatives or industry representatives.
Scot Lib Dem older people’s spokesperson Rosemary Bruce said: “The past year has been impossibly difficult for care home residents and their families. These people are at the height of vulnerability and as a result they have been, and continue to be, some of the most isolated in our communities.
“There has been a perpetual maze of new public health advice and guidance, and the constant strain of balancing the risk of COVID-19 against loneliness for both the residents and their families. Many have been shunted between homes and hospitals and deprived of access to their families. Comforts have been few and far between.
Dumbarton’s council care home for the elderly at Crosslet. Picture by Bill Heaney Top picture: Minister for Older People, Christina McKelvie,
“A Minister for Older People should have been a reassuring presence. Instead, she has been completely absent. The only engagement she has had with care home residents, their families and the industry as a whole is being a passenger in someone else’s meeting.
“Christina McKelvie owes care home residents and their families a grovelling apology.”
Scottish Liberal Democrats asked the Scottish Government for:
- The number of visits Minister for Older People, Christina McKelvie, has made to care homes since March 2020. This should cover physical and virtual visits. Please detail the date, location, length and title/agenda of each of these meetings.
Answer: The operation of care homes is the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Health. Visiting to SNP care homes has been severely restricted except for essential purposes or when levels of the virus have been low enough, due to the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020. Section 17 of FOISA applies as this information is not held, because the Minister for Older People has made no physical or virtual visits to care homes since March 2020.
- Details of the meetings the Minister for Older People, Christina McKelvie, has had with each of the following since March 2020: Care home staff, Care home residents, Care home residents’ family members, Care home resident or family member lobbying groups, Representatives of Scottish care, Please detail the date, length and title/agenda of each of these meetings.
Answer: The operation of care homes is the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Health. The Minister met with Care Homes Relatives Scotland on 2nd October 2020, along with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and the Minister for Mental Health and I enclose some of the information you requested, namely a copy of the agenda and a note of the outcome of the meeting. Details of the Cabinet Secretary for Health’s engagements in relation to care homes as well as all ministerial engagements can be found at: Ministerial engagements, travel and gifts – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)