A damning report found 14 Scottish care homes required at least five inspection visits during the pandemic before they were deemed “adequately” safe for residents.
Care Home Relatives Scotland (CHRS), which compiled the report, said it was understandable homes struggled with new protocols during early stages of the pandemic.
But the campaign group said it was “unacceptable” it was continuing more than a year later, The Herald reported.
The extent to which some homes failed to improve infection control or it actually worsened as knowledge about the virus increased was described as “concerning”.
Inspections did not resume until May 4, 2020 and were changed to focus on infection control with the wellbeing of residents also taken into consideration.
A total of 18 homes with 921 residents required at least three visits from inspectors before they were categorised as adequate and further safety checks were not required.
Four homes with 132 residents were either de-registered after the first follow-up visit or an application was taken forward.
Some 137 care homes did reach a good enough level of performance in the first inspection visit.
But the report found very few of the remaining care homes improved beyond an adequate grade, even after numerous inspection visits.
CHRS said adequate was “not good enough” for the most vulnerable members of society.
A total of 53.3% care homes were evaluated as “adequate” in their latest visit, with 68% rated less than “good'”
The report said the “pain and suffering” of residents could have been reduced if family members had they been allowed to have regular access to their relatives in their own rooms throughout the pandemic.
Few relatives were aware of their right to essential visits due to “a lack of communication” from the Scottish Care Inspectorate.
Many relatives simply accepted “poor practice”, including being limited to 30-minute distanced visits.
CHRS said that at the very least, every care home resident should be entitled to have meaningful contact with one nominated person, despite any type of lockdown.
A spokesperson for CHRS said: “While proportionally, the numbers are small, it is unacceptable that up to 132 residents were living in care homes where conditions were such that an application for de-registration was considered at the first follow up visit.
“Our research has shown that even those previously graded as good or better than ‘good’ can fall into lower grades within as little as six months.”
A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate said: “Care providers should support meaningful contact through visiting which includes enabling privacy for in-person visits.
“Meaningful contact should also be included in individual care plans, with clear strategies in place to enable staff to provide the right support to people as required.”