'Scottish care homes need PPE now', demands Church of Scotland charity

All staff working in residential care homes in Scotland must be immediately supplied with masks, gloves, overalls and other safety kit to protect themselves and vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis.

Scots staff and volunteers caring for people in residential homes are likely to face exposure to Covid-19 as advice recommends treating sufferers "within their current setting" where possible

The call comes from CrossReach, one of the largest care providers in the country.

The latest official guidance recommends people living in care homes should be “managed within their current setting” wherever possible rather than being admitted to hospital during the current crisis.

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This means care staff and volunteers will be dealing with people who are acutely ill or dying with Covid-19 symptoms.

Viv Dickinson of the charity CrossReach says staff caring for people in residential homes should be kitted out with masks, gloves and other protective kit "immediately"

Viv Dickenson, of the charity CrossReach, said it was “unfair and unjust” for workers providing these essential services to go without personal protective equipment (PPE) at this time.

Mrs Dickenson said: “Our exceptional and dedicated staff are being asked to do what they can, but would you want to care for someone with the virus without protection for you, your family and other residents?

“Whilst NHS supplies have been prioritised we have seen arrangements for the care sector lag behind and the supply chain dry up.

“We understand arrangements are being made but have not yet seen the detail and the clock is ticking.

“Personal protective equipment in the care sector is non-negotiable and we hope that the Scottish Government will acknowledge this immediately and act quickly to stop the spread of the virus and protect staff and residents.”

CrossReach, the social care arm of the Church of Scotland, runs more than 35 residential services across Scotland - half of these are care homes for older people.

Mrs Dickenson says protective gear is also “vital” for staff across the care sector who support people in their own homes.

The charity, which operates cradle-to-grave support services, is also asking the public for donations of overalls, disposable gloves and face-masks, food and cleaning supplies as well as help with transport.

Mrs Dickenson said: “We know that there are risks to using public transport at this time which can spread the virus.

“We are appealing to people to provide transport to get our staff and volunteers safely back and forward to their place of work and be of less risk to others.

“Those living in residential settings still need to be fed and cared for but as staff self-isolate or become sick this will be a real challenge.

“If you have skills and experience from catering to caring which you might be able to offer us, please be in touch.”

The Scottish Government has launched an emergency PPE helpline for social care providers who are registered with the Care Inspectorate, which has been receiving hundred of calls every day.

Extra staff have today been brought in to help prepare and deliver orders due to high levels of demand from across the country.A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “In addition to the helpline we are now also proactively delivering PPE to local cluster points for onward distribution or collection by registered social care providers, so that they have supplies available as a contingency measure.

“For now this is prioritising care homes for adults and housing support/care at home providers.

“We are also in the process of setting up additional processes for unpaid carers, personal assistants and other Care Inspectorate registered and non-registered services to access PPE if they need it. We expect these to go live shortly.

“Where we are alerted to any particular difficulties in health and social care, we respond directly and as quickly as we can to resolve these.”

A review of existing PPE guidance across the UK’s four nations is expected to be completed this week and will be made available on the Covid-19 guidance pages of the Health Protection Scotland website.

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