The Herald ‘owned by Newsquest, one of the UK’s biggest newspaper and website publishers’ is today the media arm of a pre-emptive strike by the private care home industry to try to transfer responsibility for their failures onto the Scottish Government.
In two linked pieces, spokespersons for the industry are able to distort the truth unchallenged by the reporter.
First, the ‘devastating critique’ comes from Scottish Care, described quite misleadingly as ‘Scotland’s main care body’ when they are merely, as they put it themselves, ‘the voice of the independent care sector.’
Entirely unchallenged by the reporter, the group attempts to blame the Scottish Government for their own failures. These are institutions owned by large corporations, often registered offshore to avoid tax, paying massive dividends to shareholders and paying minimum wages to staff. Often they operate at dangerously low levels, relying on agency staff, to make profit.
They are then allowed to excuse themselves from paying for testing especially of the staff moving from one home to another, from not training staff in long-established and simple infection control techniques and from forgetting to stock enough PPE.
In one revealing comment they demand more testing within easy range of their staff who ‘do not always have cars‘. Why don’t they have cars wonder the millionaire owners? Insecure employment on poverty wages?
In a key omission, the report fails to mention that, on average, the much commented on 900 patients discharged into care homes works out at around one to two each, requiring isolation procedures, non rocket-science, of the kind New Zealand’s care homes managed to do without fuss.
In a second piece, one owner, Tony Banks of Balhousie, is presented as ‘chairman and founder’ rather than ‘owner’ as if he led some charitable organisation. He is allowed to imply that management is somehow not his responsibility and that infection control procedures, essentially the same for any virus and surely familiar over decades to care homes for the vulnerable, required them just to ‘cross our fingers.’ Let’s hope they knew about washing their fingers? Oh, Jeane Freeman didn’t tell them to wash their hands clearly enough in guidance personally handed to them?
Bizarrely and insensitively, Banks is able to use the article as an opportunity to claim that the death rate in his homes is ‘less than half the industry average.‘ There’s an industry average for deaths? Who publishes that? He wants recognition?
Perhaps explaining this article today, Balhousie has been in the news more than once recently.
In early May this year:
Balhousie Care Group, which runs 22 homes across Tayside and Fife, has refused to state if there have been any Covid-19 related fatalities recorded at their homes in a move that has been slammed as “defying belief”.
Only last November:
Medication errors and staffing levels have been brought under the spotlight at a Perthshire care home following an inspection in August. Balhousie Dalnaglar, which provides care and support for up to 40 older people, is operated by the Balhousie Care Group. The Care Inspectorate said: “Dalnaglar had reported a high number of medication errors in the three months prior to our inspection. We found that medication was not managed effectively to meet people’s care needs.
There’s much more on the larger-than-life Banks across social media but it’s not relevant here.
Finally, a Holyrood committee report into testing is under lock and key.
Oooh, who locked it away? That Jeane Freeman must be up to something.
It was Scottish Labour convener, Lewis Macdonald? Oh.
Why is it locked away? Because it was felt that it would allow more people to testify? Aaah. That’s a good thing then, is it? I thought so.