Age Scotland calls for increased support as care homes account for quarter of COVID-19 deaths
Age Scotland has called for older people to receive fair and equal access to medical treatment after figures showed that care home residents have accounted for a quarter of all Scottish coronavirus deaths.
The National Records of Scotland found that 237 deaths (24.6%) occurred in care homes, compared with 62% in hospitals and 13% at home or in a non-institutional setting.
Overall, almost 70% of COVID-19 deaths involved people aged 75 and over.
The leading charity for older people in Scotland said that the desperately sad figures show the shattering impact that coronavirus is having on one of our most vulnerable populations and highlights why we must ensure that older people know that their lives matter.
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland chief executive, said: “It is devastating to learn that 237 care home residents in Scotland have died as a result of coronavirus. The fear we have had over the past few weeks about the impact this is having on some of the people most at risk has now sadly become a reality.
“No age group is immune but these grim figures highlight once again the devastating effect that this virus has on the lives of older people.
“Each and every death is a tragic loss to those who knew and loved them. Care homes must be supported with everything they need to prevent and stop the spread of this virus among residents and staff.”
He added: “It is more important now than ever that older people know that their lives matter. We must have assurances that care home residents have fair and equal access to medical treatment. Decisions about treatment should be made on a case-by-case basis, through open discussions with doctors, patients, their families and other healthcare professionals and not by broad assumptions.
“There is never an excuse to use a person’s age as a factor when deciding on medical care or admission to hospital. To do so would be blatant discrimination.
“We know care home staff across Scotland are working tirelessly in very difficult circumstances to provide the highest standards of care for their residents. It is imperative that social care and care home staff are not seen as second tier. They are very much frontline workers delivering critical services that keep people alive. They must be given robust protection equipment to keep themselves and their residents safe from infection. They should never be expected to work in an unsafe environment.
“We also urgently need more widespread testing to be made available for everyone who needs it, whether they work in a hospital, care home or community setting.
“Unfortunately we expect more older residents of care homes in Scotland will die in the coming days, weeks and months as a result of coronavirus. Care homes are close knit communities where staff and residents love and care for one another, never more so than now when family members cannot visit their loves ones. Older residents and their carers deserve our full support as they navigate this difficult path ahead.”
The call also follows the death of a care home worker in Dundee who tested positive for coronavirus.
Staff at Pitkerro Care Centre said they have been left “devastated” by the death of their colleague over the Easter weekend.
Parent company Hudson Healthcare said the worker self-isolated on April 4 after showing symptoms.
The care worker was then moved to Ninewells Hospital when symptoms worsened, before sadly passing away.
Jennifer Wishart, Scotland regional manager for Hudson Healthcare, said: “The entire Pitkerro Care Centre family were devastated by the passing of one of our staff members over the bank holiday weekend.
“They were wonderfully compassionate, extremely hardworking and much-loved.
“The member of staff had been receiving hospital care in relation to Covid-19 symptoms.
“Our thoughts are with their family and friends during this difficult time, and we are providing support to the family where possible.
“We request that their privacy be respected.”
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