BRIAN Beacom (“There is a way to transform care for our old folk”, The Herald, April 29) rightly attacks the shortcomings of the current care home market, but he falls down in his suggestion of a “new model, funded by tax-payers or insurance schemes”, because that would still leave the care home sector as a largely commercial and therefore profit-driven market, rather than having patient care as its sole purpose.

A key principle underlying reform is that care homes should not be a profit centre, especially at the expense of the old and vulnerable and their families. While the Prime Minister has said that the NHS is “not for sale”, that is only a limited reassurance, because it will not stop the big US health insurers continuing to circle round what they see as the sinking ship of the care system. The only way of saving it from their jaws is not simply to bring it under the control of the NHS, but to make it an integral and inseparable part of it.

Michael Otter, Kinlochbervie.

BRIAN Beacom raises the issue of whether there may be a need for a new taxation system to allow for care homes to become a branch of the NHS. There is a danger, however, in believing that private companies cannot provide excellent care. He states there are many care homes which are poorly run, but I am not sure how many Care Inspectorate reports of care homes he may have perused. It is worth pondering that NHS hospitals before Covid-19 did not all meet good standards, some with disastrous results, as has been reported.

As chaplain in Ross-shire to two care homes, Strathallan House and Fodderty House (part of Mistral Care Group) which have presented with no cases of Covid-19, I was really impressed to hear that that care group was so well prepared that the staff informed me that they have plenty of PPE (including visors) because the firm planned so well ahead.

What impressed me was the thought that went into the care and protection of the residents. Such a lot of care has had to be re arranged under these trying circumstances. The residents have to remain in their rooms and there can be no communal gatherings. Each carer, however, is allocated to their named residents in their rooms. While they miss out in the group activities, this means that the residents are receiving quality one-to-one care. As the residents cannot receive visitors then Facetime/Skype has been set up using the iPads, for face to face (virtual) conversations which reassures both the residents and the relatives. (These care homes have printed my messages, which as chaplain, I have emailed to be distributed for the residents also.)

Another intelligent tactic by the care group director, Christopher Allan, was to organise the catering firm which delivers supplies to the home to deliver all the staff catering needs also. The handyman transfers the staff supplies to their car boots. Obviously this hugely minimises the risk of infection spreading as none of the staff need shop elsewhere.The staff are very grateful for this.

Perhaps other care homes can learn from this meticulous planning. It does demonstrate that private companies can and do provide excellent care by very devoted staff. I can testify to that.

Irene Munro, Conon Bridge.