Two care homes where 27 people died amid coronavirus outbreaks provided a weak level of care and support during the pandemic, a report has found.
The Care Inspectorate said residents at Inchmarlo House, near Banchory in Aberdeenshire, were left isolating in their bedrooms, with a lack of regular interactions.
It also found people were left for lengthy periods without emotional support, and that there was poor communication with the relatives of residents.
Inspectors visiting Deeside Care Home in Aberdeen said not all staff had followed good practice in the use of the protective equipment, and some bins had been overfilled with PPE waste.
The reports were carried out following the outbreaks at the homes late last year.
The Care Inspectorate found residents at Inchmarlo were not actively supported when it came to keeping in contact with their loved ones.
Families frequently had to initiate contact, and two relatives said they had been contacted by residents who said they did not have a way to call staff or attract their attention.
Concerns were also raised over some residents not receiving the support they required to eat and drink well.
Inspectors found while the home had a system in place to access medication in case of residents contracting Covid-19, it was a “cumbersome” system with poor storage, creating the potential for mistakes.
Communication between the home, GP and pharmacist was sometimes found to be ineffective, contributing to a delay in medication being given.
The watchdog said the home’s management team “acted immediately” to address the issues and put appropriate systems in place.
The Inspectorate made a set of requirements for the Aberdeenshire home, including making sure residents are safe and following infection protection procedures.
A spokesperson for Inchmarlo House said: “The recent Covid-19 inspection by the Care Inspectorate and the requirements set out in their report are a vital part of the healing process, and many of the recommendations identified have already been implemented or are in progress.
“We remain committed to providing the high standard of care and friendly atmosphere which has been nurtured over more than three decades, always focusing first and foremost on all those who call Inchmarlo House Care Home their home and their workplace.”
At Deeside Care Home, concerns were raised over delays in residents being kept updated about the Covid outbreak.
Despite staff being trained and supervised in good practice for caring for people during the pandemic, inspectors said they “could not be confident that staff always implemented what they had learned”.
They added that while there were good supplies of personal protective equipment, stocks in some of the stations were “visibly low”.
Recommendations included carrying out a deep clean of the home and ensuring it was run in a way which supported effective infection control.
In a statement, Deeside Care Home said: “We have developed a thorough management action plan to address the points raised by the Care Inspectorate and all the requirements required by December 31 were addressed.
“In addition, we have implemented a number of extra measures to further improve overall standards at the home. These include increasing the home’s management team to enable staff to carry out a comprehensive review of individual care plans and provide regular updates to residents and their families on how we are tackling Covid-19.”
A spokesperson for NHS Grampian’s incident management team said: “Since November 20, there has been an ongoing investigation into cases of Covid-19 associated with the Deeside Care Home. The current cumulative total is 76 cases. Both staff and residents have been affected.
“NHS Grampian is working closely with Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership and the facility’s management. Supportive measures have been implemented throughout the management of this outbreak situation.
“The home is closed to new admissions and visiting. Staff have implemented an enhanced cleaning regime. Care is being delivered as normal and the health protection team is providing full support to the facility’s management.”
The Crown Office said it had received reports into the deaths of 12 people at Inchmarlo, and 15 at Deeside.
A spokesman added: “The investigation into the deaths is ongoing and the families will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments”