Care home linked with 13 Covid-19 deaths rated 'unsatisfactory' for infection control by Care Inspectorate

Guthrie House care home in Edinburgh was issued with a serious letter of concern at the start of September

Guthrie House Care Home, Lasswade

A care home linked with 13 deaths caused by Covid-19 in April has been told it must improve urgently by the Care Inspectorate after being rated ‘unsatisfactory’ for infection control practices.

Guthrie House in Liberton, Edinburgh, is run by Four Seasons Health Care and was linked to the deaths of 13 residents due to Covid-19 in April.

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Five months on and the care home has been criticised by the care homes watchdog for failing to adequately protect its residents from infection after an inspection on September 1.

In a report, submitted to the Scottish Parliament by the Care Inspectorate, the care home is criticised for “serious concerns” relating to cleanliness.

Staff were also found to not be complying with guidance on infection prevention, and “did not fully understand” safe PPE practice.

The home was also slammed for other issues including residents not having easy access to water anywhere in the homes and for not “appropriately” supporting those in pain and distress.

The care home was also criticised for there being “no evidence” to show people living in the care home had been encouraged to keep in contact with family members during lockdown.

However, details were taken of those visiting in order to comply with Test and Protect regulations.

The report stated: “There was no evidence to show that people living within the care home had been encouraged to keep in contact with their families during lockdown. Scottish Government guidance had been implemented with details being taken prior to a family visit to maintain safety for all and to inform Test and Trace should this be required.

“There were serious concerns relating to the cleanliness of the furnishings and equipment used to support people. Staff were not fully complying with current guidance on infection prevention and control and did not fully understand safe practices with regards to PPE.

“Staffing levels were not sufficient for staff to provide social stimulation for people. Some attempts had been made to support social distancing, but these were limited.”

A follow-up infection on September 3 found some attempts had been made to address the concerns but were deemed “not sufficient” by the Care Inspectorate.

Overall, the care home was rated ‘Weak’ for the measure on the quality of people’s health and well-being and staffing arrangements, and unsatisfactory for infection prevention and control practices.

In April, it was reported the home was linked to as many as 13 deaths due to Covid-19, with the company at the time stating that they had strict protocols on infectious diseases with regulations in place across all the company’s care homes to ensure the safety of its residents and staff.

Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian, Miles Briggs, said: “This latest report from the Care Inspectorate is deeply concerning and shows that PPE guidance and social distancing are not being followed properly.

“The evaluation of Guthrie House, where thirteen residents died from Covid-19 in April, is particularly concerning. Additionally, the lack of water available, cleanliness of the home and limited social interaction indicates that residents are nowhere near receiving the appropriate level of care.

“Care home residents are in the highest risk category for Covid-19 and Care Inspectorate reports are showing that not nearly enough is being done to protect residents.

“Care homes must be fully supported to provide appropriate care to residents and follow PPE guidance and social distancing measures, as a matter of urgency.”

Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said “clear mistakes” were made by the Scottish Government in regards to care homes and said the inspection gave credence to the call for a National Care Service.

He said: “This is a very troubling report that will cause alarm for residents and their friends and relatives.

“The deaths at this care home in April were a tragedy.

“There were clear mistakes at a national level by the Scottish Government, which failed to test residents before discharge from hospital and didn’t supply staff with PPE, putting unfair pressure on dedicated care workers at Guthrie House and elsewhere.

“But there are also specific questions about training and infection control practices which Four Seasons Health Care must now answer.

“This is further evidence of the need to establish a National Care Service with guaranteed national standards and a new emphasis on putting people before profit."

Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative health spokesperson said: “This is a damning report from the Care Inspectorate on this particular care home which has plainly had serious issues with infection control throughout the pandemic.

“It appears that a range of basic measures were not properly followed here, putting our most vulnerable at risk.

“That is completely unacceptable and urgent action must be taken to protect residents."

A spokesman for Four Seasons Health Care said: “The Covid-19 pandemic quickly created immense challenges for all organisations in the health and social care sectors and we continue to strive every day to protect everyone in our homes.

"We deeply regret that Guthrie House care home has fallen below the standards that the Care Inspectorate requires and that we expect. Since the inspection, we have put in place a comprehensive action plan and are fully supporting the home to ensure this is delivered.

"Our colleagues are working tirelessly on the frontline to care for our residents under difficult circumstances and we will continue to put all our resources and energy into supporting and protecting everyone in our homes.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Everyone in Scotland has the right to safe, compassionate care which meets their needs and respects their rights. We have clear standards for the quality of care across our health and social care services.

“The safety, protection and wellbeing of residents and staff in our care home sector is a priority. When someone lives in a care home, that is their home. We expect care homes not just to be safe, but to be enjoyable places to live.

“The Cabinet Secretary meets with the Care Inspectorate regularly to discuss these inspections and any support, improvement and action needed as a result of the findings.”

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