Little of what follows made the BBC report which opens:
A care home in central Scotland has confirmed 20 of its residents have died in a month after testing positive for Covid-19. The death toll at Caledonian Care home in Larbert is thought to be the worst during the second wave of the virus. The home is operated by Care UK, which says stringent infection controls and testing are in place.
The last sentence is interesting, especially when you read the Care Inspectorate report based on an inspection only 11 days before on 10th November.
The word ‘infection’ appears 17 times, including in these statements:
In addition to inconsistencies in staff training on infection prevention and control and PPE, we found that management were not closely monitoring staff’s practice in these areas. Usually, a management team would
have systems in place for checking staff’s practices and ensuring it is to the required standard. This will help to ensure what staff learn in training is consistently put into practice and that people are safe and supported to keep well. (See Requirement 3).
- By 11 December 2020, in order to ensure good outcomes for people experiencing care, the provider must ensure the care home environment is clean and infection prevention and control measures are improved. In
order to achieve this, you must ensure:
a) the home environment, including sanitary ware, painted surfaces and floors must be uncluttered, clean, intact and safe for use.
b) all care equipment is clean and safe for use. This incudes, but is not limited to, toilet risers, commodes and shower chairs.
c) the service must develop an adequate quality assurance process to ensure the environment and care equipment are safe and clean.
- By 11 December 2020, the provider must ensure people being cared for can be confident that staff are competent and skilled in infection prevention and control practice. To ensure this, the service provider must put in place robust and regular checking and monitoring measures for staff practice. Suitable monitoring should include:
- staff’s wearing and disposal of PPE
- hand washing and hand hygiene
- correct practice when disinfecting care equipment
- assisting people to physically distance and keep good hand hygiene.
To place a requirement to be met in only one month, tells you the inspectors were worried. Despite these comments, the home was then rated overall, ‘Adequate.’ I’d have thought that to be ‘adequate’, the care would have to be safe?
Over the last two years, reports look less than encouraging:
Care UK: Tory donations and alleged tax avoidance:
In November 2009 John Nash, [Baron Nash] the chairman of Care UK, made a donation of £21,000 to the private office of Andrew Lansley, who would later become Secretary of State for Health, but was at the time the health spokesman for the opposition. Lansley was later accused of a conflict of interest, as Care UK would be a major beneficiary of proposed changes.
In 2014, Care UK’s former chairman Lord Nash became a government minister and Care UK took over services for people with severe learning disabilities in Doncaster, south Yorkshire, where they immediately cut wages of staff who had been on NHS terms by up to 35% while bringing in 100 new workers on £7 an hour. Fifty carers for the disabled began strike action in protest and by August 2014, had been on strike for seven weeks, making it one of the longest strikes in the history of the NHS. Care UK won the supported living contract from the council after telling officials that it could deliver it for £6.7m over three years, yet the wage bill alone for the service was £7m.
A report in The Guardian of 17 March 2012 stated that Care UK “has a reduced tax bill by taking out loans through the Channel Islands stock exchange and coming to an agreement with HMRC”. Another report by the same newspaper in August 2014 stated that “Care UK has not paid a penny in corporation tax” since it was bought by the private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital in 2010.