INFECTION control was rated weak or unsatisfactory in almost half the Scottish care homes most recently inspected, official document show,  as Covid-19 outbreaks were confirmed by almost 140 providers.

Of 22 homes checked by the Care Inspectorate, 10 (45%) were given the lowest grading for preventing the spread of the virus, while none received the top rating of ‘excellent’.

Four homes were hit with the most severe warnings of an improvement notice or serious concern letter, due to the risks identified while a further two homes were closed down, including one, forcibly.

The Scottish Conservatives described the latest inspection findings, nine months into the pandemic, as “shameful and negligent”.

As of December 20, the most recent figures available, 138 care homes reported having a current outbreak of Covid-19 while there were 326 confirmed cases amongst elderly residents.

More than a quarter of deaths (65 out of 250) were amongst those who tested positive for the virus.

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The latest fortnightly reports, published on December 23, show that one home in Glasgow has failed to satisfy infection control criteria despite being inspected four times in one month.

Serious concerns were identified at Ardencraig Care Home in Castlemilk, which is run by Thistle Healthcare, from the initial inspection on December 1.

The cleanliness of the environment and equipment, management of laundry and waste and sanitising products being used were all found to be lacking.

Although staff had received training in infection prevention and control practice, they did not fully comply with current guidance and “not all staff demonstrated an understanding or knowledge about Covid-19.”

Three further follow-up visits were carried out and a Serious Concern Letter was issued after the initial inspection.

However, while some improvements had been made, progress was not sufficient and Glasgow’s health and social care partnership has now been called in to drive up improvements before another inspection in January. 

Meadowvale Care Home in Bathgate was described as having insufficient PPE, while in some areas it was being stored ‘inappropriately’ on handrails, increasing the risk of contamination and possible spread of infection.

Although staff were trained in infection prevention and control, inspectors said standard precautions were not always followed. 

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“Some staff were wearing jewellery and watches. There was incorrect application of guidance about face visors. A more robust quality assurance system was needed to monitor practice including hand hygiene.”

The service is operated by Meadowvale Care (Bathgate) Limited and a follow-up inspection has now been ordered.

Braemount nursing home in Paisley, run by Advinia Care Homes Limited, was graded weak in all categories; residents’ health and wellbeing, infection prevention and control and staffing.

The home is continuing to be monitored after serious concerns about cleanliness were identified during an earlier inspection, although the report noted that some improvements had been made.

At Wyvis House Care Home in Dingwall social distancing was “not always observed” and 
the environment was described as cluttered and dirty while the approach to PPE was said to be ‘disorganised’.

The inspectors added: “Staff received training in relation to COVID19, however, they did not always demonstrate their knowledge in practice.”

The Care Inspectorate has applied to the courts seeking the termination of the registration of Thornlea Nursing Home in Loanhead and said the inspection report would be published on conclusion of this proceedings.

In the nine months since the public health crisis took off in Scotland, 11,824 care home residents have died - 24 per cent more than in an average year. The transfer of un-tested and Covid positive patients from hospitals and shortages of PPE have been blamed for the death toll.

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Donald Cameron, shadow health secretary for the the Scottish Conservatives  said: “Thousands of elderly resident of Scotland’s care homes have died in the pandemic yet the SNP continue to block an immediate public inquiry. 

“This appalling record of infection control would be unacceptable at any time. In the current situation, it is shameful, negligent and in some cases could be deadly. 

“It is vital for SNP government care regulators to get a grip on this situation before any more lives are needlessly lost. 

“They have had months to get this right. It is their responsibility to urgently do so. 

“They should work with care providers to establish why these rates are do bad and take firm action against those who are not doing enough.” 

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have clear standards for the quality of care across our health and social care services.

“Infection control is of paramount importance – we take very seriously when standards in care homes are found to have fallen short and where issues are identified by the Care Inspectorate, we expect remedial action to be taken urgently.”

Two homes were rated ‘very good’ in all categories: Kirkburn Court Care Centre in Peterhead and Laurels Lodge Care Home in Aberdeen.