Virus ‘assumed’ when care home residents return from hospital

Those returning to homes from hospital are not routinely tested but assumed to have coronavirus and put into isolation.

People returning to care homes from hospital are not routinely tested but are assumed to have coronavirus and put into isolation, the head of Scottish Care has said.

Following calls for testing of all new and returning care home residents, Dr Donald Macaskill said measures were already in place to give other residents and staff the “absolute assurance” they will not pass on the virus.

He explained there was “very strict criteria” for new residents during the coronavirus lockdown.

Dr Macaskill said: “The person is admitted to the care home and the care home assumes they are positive – even if there are no indicators that they are.”

They will then be “barrier nursed” for between one week and two, Dr Macaskill explained, with the person isolated in a separate room and “intensive nursing with the adequate PPE and protection for staff, and for the individual involved”.

Dr Macaskill, who is the chief executive of the independent care sector representative Scottish Care, added that procedures within care homes had been “massively changed” to protect people during the pandemic.

Figures released last week by the National Records of Scotland revealed almost a quarter (24.6%) of deaths linked to coronavirus happened in care homes but Dr Macaskill insisted for most people in care homes they are the best and safest place to be.

“We all know that keeping somebody – once they have recovered from any condition – in a hospital when you’re older can be very negative to that person, it reduces your life expectancy,” he said.

The First Minister and health secretary have faced repeated questions about testing for care home residents, with opposition parties calling for all new admissions to be tested for coronavirus.

Nicola Sturgeon has warned current tests are not completely reliable if a person is not showing symptoms of Covid-19.

But she has pledged all symptomatic residents should now be tested to give families and the public assurances about controlling the spread of the virus.

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