The Scottish Government has unveiled new powers to protect care home residents amid the coronavirus crisis.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced new arrangements to strengthen health chiefs’ ability to oversee the management of the pandemic in residential facilities.
From Monday, clinical and care professionals at NHS boards and local authorities will have a lead “role” in the oversight for care homes in their area.
Speaking at the latest daily briefing in Edinburgh, she also revealed the publication of updated guidance for care homes.
Every health board and local authority must put in place a multi-disciplinary team comprised of key clinical leads and the area’s chief social work officer.
The team’s remit will include daily discussions about the quality of care in each care home in their area, with particular focus on implementation of infection prevention and control, and the provision of expert clinical support to residents who have coronavirus.
Freeman revealed the new rules will mean health chiefs can ensure support, infection control, clinical care and testing are “where we need them to be”.
And she said these are changes which would only be taken as a “last resort”.
Freeman said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on Scotland’s social care services. It is of paramount importance that those using services, including residents of care homes and those supporting them, are provided with the best possible care and the Scottish Government is doing everything in its power to ensure that is the case.
“All organisations including care providers are responsible for effective and safe care in their services, and are expected to work closely together and at pace to give effect to these arrangements.
“While these are unprecedented times, everything possible must be done to protect care home residents and staff from the effects of Covid-19.
“These new arrangements will ensure clarity and consistency across the country about the role of health boards and local authorities in helping to keep their residents safe from coronavirus and should be seen alongside other recent action the Scottish Government has taken, including publishing revised guidance for the sector, and amendments to the Coronavirus Bill being discussed at parliament next week.
“I want to assure staff, residents and their families that a safe residential environment in care homes remains our top priority.”