From BBC Sheffield and South Yorkshire this morning:
A carer who was unable to be tested for coronavirus until July said she feared she may have spread the disease into care homes despite showing no symptoms.…Miss Taylor, who is employed by an agency, worked at four different homes before regular testing was introduced for care workers and residents without symptoms.
This single case cannot offer definitive evidence but it does lend support to the idea presented here more than once, that agency staff unwittingly spread the virus through Scotland’s care homes and that as employees of a profit-making private agency with a responsibility for them, should have been tested, by them, for infection.
This, with the wider evidence repeated below, further disputes the notion that hospital discharges played any part and that these can, even to supporters of the Scottish Government such as Professor Reicher, be described as mistakes.
Here’s the wider evidence again:
‘Staff sickness hit nursing home care’ is the first sub-heading, and presumably answer, in the report yet there is no investigation into the possibility that this was especially a problem for the private homes which form their only sample and what effect their consequent reliance on often far-travelled agency staff may have had.
We know from BBC Scotland’s own report that the Skye care home outbreak was associated with ‘a large dependency on agency staff‘:
Indeed, their own former Head of News, John Boothman, now at the Times, wrote:
HC-One, Britain’s largest care home chain and the operator of Home Farm, faces allegations that it paid insufficient heed to the [Scottish] government’s lockdown by parachuting workers in from as far away as Kent, 645 miles away, to plug staff shortages in a sector where pay is notoriously poor.
That’s just one case but an ONS study of 9 081 care homes in England found this:
These emerging findings reveal some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infections amongst residents.These include prevalence of infection in staff, some care home practices such as more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and some regional differences (such as higher infection levels within care homes in London and the West Midlands). There is some evidence that in care homes where staff receive sick pay, there are lower levels of infection in residents.