Powers have been put forward which would allow Scottish ministers to intervene in care homes where there is a serious risk to life.
The measures have been proposed as a “safety net” to make sure that if a provider is unable to deliver care, the Scottish Government can step in by asking the sheriff court for an emergency order.
The planned emergency powers are being put forward as an amendment to the Coronavirus Bill and, if passed by MSPs, are intended to provide assurance and support to those who depend on care services, their family and staff that deliver care.
Under the proposals, ministers would be granted temporary court orders to take over care home services and put support in place as quickly as possible.
Currently, public bodies can apply to the courts to have a care home provider’s registration removed, but they have to wait for the sheriff’s final decision.
The move comes after the Care Inspectorate applied to cancel the registration of the HC-One-owned Home Farm Care Home in Skye.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “It is of paramount importance that anyone living in a care home or using other care services, as well as those supporting them, are provided with the best possible care.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that remains the case. We are fortunate that this high standard of care is the norm for the vast majority of care home residents in Scotland.
“However, for the duration of this pandemic I believe that it is critical that a clear safety net is in place to ensure that if a care provider was unable to continue to deliver services, that the people who depend on those services should not be impacted.
“Our proposals build on established powers and would put beyond doubt that immediate action can be taken if continuity of care was jeopardised for any reason.”
She added: “The Care Inspectorate has a robust inspection regime for the care sector and the further steps we are hoping to take, if the parliament agrees, help bolster that work and would only be exercised as a last resort.
“There is guidance available for care providers on how to manage the current situation, which the Scottish Government expects to be followed.
“Every resident in our care homes, their family and the staff who work there should be kept safe from harm and we are prepared to take action where this is not the case.”