The Care Home Deaths Report: The Guilty Parties Unnamed but obvious

There are two words missing, from the 59 pages of the above report released yesterday to the enormous disappointment of the opposition parties and the media which act as a conduit for their attacks on the Scottish Government.

Typically blinkered when the news does not suit their agenda, they have just ignored the report’s main conclusion, that hospital discharges played no meaningful, statistically significant, role in the outbreaks and returned to their playground chant:

Oooh, you did discharge 78 people who tested positive into care homes!

That these homes willingly accepted the patients, for big bucks, have infection control procedures and that they did not trigger outbreaks, except perhaps in a few larger private homes which we must conclude failed to implement infection controls, does not seem to matter.

The words are ‘corporation‘ or ‘company.’ At at least 44 Scottish care homes are owned by ‘companies‘ based in offshore tax havens .

HC-One, ‘The Kind Care Company‘ based in Darlington has 56 homes in Scotland including the one in Skye now subject to police investigation.

Why does this matter?

When you read down to page 38 of the report, you find some information that was clearly too sensitive for the Scottish Government to headline and, of course, of no interest to our state and corporate-owned media, including the National.

45.2% of the 275 privately-owned homes had an outbreak compared to 27.9% of the 41 local authority and 12.5% of the 32 voluntary homes.

That, on its own is a shocking comment on the infection control standards in the private homes and a newsworthy note on the performance of the voluntary sector.

90% of the largest 46 homes, with more than 90 residents, had outbreaks. That all of these are owned by large corporations is not reported in the data but given what we know about the demand for profit margins and economies of scale in that sector we can be sure that they are.

That too is a shocking indictment of these corporations. What is required now, going beyond the report, is an investigation of infection control and related matters in these places, including any evidence of careless use of agency staff moving between homes, of insecure contracts causing staff to be fearful of taking time off with symptoms and of failures in training and in the ordering of PPE.

Watch in vain for BBC Disclosure having the guts to investigate this.

8 thoughts on “The Care Home Deaths Report: The Guilty Parties Unnamed but obvious”

  1. I think Janey Godleys voice over summarised the media cleverly concerning yesterdays press meeting with the FM. They are digging
    themselves into a hole and don’t yet realise it

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Let’s be quite clear about what is causing the media in Scotland to go into a frenzy over care homes and Alex Salmond.
    57% of Scots now support independence.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Sick pay in the UK is enough to make you sick. Workers do not receive any pay for the first three days they have to take off due to illness. At least not in the care sector, that includes those who work as support workers for eg, a charity. Care work is where it’s most crucial for staff not to turn up when ill.
    If you have a bad cold or whatever, best stay home and rest to recover and also so as not spread nasty bugs about, Not an option for most workers, on low pay anyway and just scraping by, three days pay could mean the difference between paying rent, or not being able to. So the consequences
    are obvious.
    At the start of the pandemic, private companies bussed agency staff into Scotland from south of England. Who knows in what other areas of business etc that has happened. Is it still happening?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Many care workers are low paid. This leads to staff shortages. This in turn leads to many having to work longer hours than satisfactory or intended. Placing a strain and stress on workers. This leads to people leaving. Increasing the staff shortages. A catch 22 situation.

    Many migrants and intending social care students take up staff positions. To fill the gap. Brexit will take care of that. Less care workers. Lower paid. Some staff members and higher up grades receive higher remuneration and stay longer.

    It can be unpleasant work. A lot of cleaning, clearing up and lifting work. Most of the staff are hardworking, kind and caring. Especially in hard times. Personal care means more elderly people can stay in their own homes. Residential home care £600+ a week. Hospital care £600+ a day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Some is also more pyschological support for eg re autism and the depression which sometimes is part of that condition. The support workers are not always supported well to do their job, and yes the pool of
      people seems to be shrinking. Staff from EU especially have all but left, and there is a high turnover of staff, probably because it is stressful and also low paid. The variety of support organisations/services are also in general very thin on the ground as it is. If services shrink due to Brexit especially in care homes, it will impact the SNHS etc, it’s why Scotland needs to be part of the EU and not be isolated in a narrow, ethnic nationalist, insular, so called UK.


  5. Outsourcing resulted in the degradation of the terms and conditions of the workers in care homes. Privatisation of care homes was much more marked in England than Scotland. It is likely to be easier to take social care out of private hands in Scotland than England.

    Here is why. In England

    “Market Penetration:….In 1979, 64% of residential and nursing home beds were still provided by local authorities or the NHS; by 2012 it was 6%. In the case of domiciliary care, 95% was directly provided by local authorities as late as 1993; by 2012 it was just 11% ….

    Market Fragmentation:….The care home sector supports around 410,000 residents across 11,300 homes from 5500 different providers….

    Market Fragility:….Much of the Southern Cross provision was eventually taken over by another major provider, Four Seasons, which is itself now at high risk of going under. Either through financial collapse or strategic withdrawal the market model is at tipping point.”

    In Scotland. Dr Donald Macaskill of Scottish Care, which represents private care homes, says there are significant differences between here and the rest of the UK. He said that around one in five of Scotland’s 725 private homes are owned by the biggest operators.

    Both Scotland and England provided support for infection control in care homes. The provisions of these can be found at these links.

    The Scottish provisions do not include agency staff or the self employed (of whom there are likely to be few).

    In England, there were provisions relating to a fund to support infection control in care homes.

    It said, “Local authorities must ensure that 75% of the grant is allocated to support the following measures in respect of care homes:…

    …ensuring, in so far as possible, that members of staff work in only one care home. This includes staff who work for one provider across several homes or staff that work on a part-time basis for multiple employers and includes agency staff (the principle being that the fewer locations that members of staff work in the better, for example compensating staff whose normal hours are reduced due to restrictions on their movement)”

    So, if the owner of a certain private care home operating in Kent received financial support for infection control while sending agency staff to another care home in Scotland, that would be funding that would be inappropriate, would it not?.

    Kate Belgrave is a journalist whom I admire greatly.

    “Thus, the Infection Control Fund – a thin paper to stretch over another yawning central crack. Needless to say, at the local level, interpretations of the use of the ICF have been intriguing – ie absolutely random and often a circus. This ALWAYS happens when government attempts to address a major structural problem (such as Statutory Sick Pay) in a crisis (such as covid-19’s razing through carehomes) by lobbing a handful of cash at it and hoping for the best.

    The problem is that you don’t always get the best, no matter how much government hopes for it. The social media screenshots I received of a conversation about the ICF with a carehome manager were certainly an eye-opener. The manager in that dialogue said that they wouldn’t use ICF money to pay full wages for careworkers who were off work with covid symptoms, because it wouldn’t be fair to careworkers who were off sick with illnesses other than covid (the ICF is aimed at careworkers with covid symptoms, or who’ve had a positive test, etc). That manager in that post said the choice was a “moral” one – ie that it would be unfair to pay full wages to one group of sick careworkers, but not to another.”

    Kate, and our Hetty, are right on the money.It is the inadequate levels of sick pay that makes all this crap necessary.

    In the absence of any action on the part of the Scottish government we need to discuss the political system we want. A Nordic model or an Irish model. Both discounted by the Growth Commission report which should be put in the bin.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As someone who has a nearly 98 year old father in a care home in Edinburgh i have been impressed by them. Take a bow Care UK and the likes of HC one could learn from them.


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