Health secretary Jeane Freeman has announced new measures to significantly strengthen the oversight of Scotland’s care homes.
From Monday, clinical and care professionals at NHS boards and local authorities will have a lead role in the oversight for care homes in their area.
Every health board and local authority must put in place a multi-disciplinary team comprised of key clinical leads and the area’s chief social work officer.
The team’s remit will include daily discussions about the quality of care in each care home in their area, with particular focus on implementation of infection prevention and control, and the provision of expert clinical support to residents who have coronavirus.
The health minister said the new guidance will make sure clinical care, infection prevention and control, PPE and testing arrangements are “what we need them to be”.
The health secretary also revealed new measures will be added to the Coronavirus Bill – which is set to receive stage two consideration from parliament next week – that would see the Scottish Government take over the running of failing care homes.
Freeman stressed that the powers, which would ensure the “continuity of care and support”, would only be used as a “last resort”.
Whilst the Scottish Government is already taking action where standards fall short, the new measures – if passed – will provide additional reassurance to staff, residents and their families that “further action will be taken to address any failings that arise, and will be taken quickly”.
The health secretary said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on Scotland’s social care services.
“It is of paramount importance that those using services, including residents of care homes and those supporting them, are provided with the best possible care and the Scottish Government is doing everything in its power to ensure that is the case.
“All organisations including care providers are responsible for effective and safe care in their services and are expected to work closely together and at pace to give effect to these arrangements.
“While these are unprecedented times, everything possible must be done to protect care home residents and staff from the effects of Covid-19.
“These new arrangements will ensure clarity and consistency across the country about the role of health boards and local authorities in helping to keep their residents safe from coronavirus and should be seen alongside other recent action the Scottish Government has taken, including publishing revised guidance for the sector, and amendments to the Coronavirus Bill being discussed at parliament next week.
“I want to assure staff, residents and their families that a safe residential environment in care homes remains our top priority.”