THE reason why care homes have become so badly affected by Covid-19 is in part because of the ageist society in which we live. This means that the care which is given to people from care homes is based solely on relieving an acute problem when admitted to hospital. As soon as that is dealt with the care home resident is discharged back to the care home.

There are two reasons for this: the average time a care home resident lives is about 14 months and the NHS appears to believe it futile to extend further care in hospital to this group, including access to relevant rehabilitation such as ongoing physiotherapy. Care home residents are therefore expected to die in the care home so that stress is not put on the NHS.

When NHS staff discharged elderly patients back into care homes without testing them for Covid-19 they were following their normal protocol: not to block beds.

However, if care home residents were not viewed as a burden to the NHS then they would have been transferred from an acute ward to an NHS care of elderly unit and would have been monitored and looked after more carefully. They could then have been isolated for longer there and less deaths may have occurred.

There is also a problem with having some care homes as profit-making institutions. Costs will always impinge on the quality of care. Early on when the virus was becoming active we saw children practising good handwashing techniques in schools, but I have yet to see this demonstrated with elderly residents in care homes.

Linda Loftus, Glasgow G73.

IN her book on the psychology of Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt wrote: “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who had never made up their mind to be good or evil”. The concept has come to be referenced as the "banality of evil". Is there a parallel here in the way that the institutions of government have dealt with our care homes over the past few months?

In future public inquiries much will no doubt be made of the benefit of hindsight that would have resulted in different actions and outcomes. However, all of our politicians invariably ask us to vote for them on the basis that they can in fact predict the consequences of their policies and decisions. Eichmann, as he sat in his condemned cell, would also have said he would have done things differently with the benefit of hindsight.

DH Telford, Fairlie.

WHILE it is welcome that the Scottish Government has indicated a long overdue review of the care home sector is on the cards, one wonders if the review will go beyond looking at the ownership structure. What the present crisis has made crystal clear is that the current setting model is a petri-dish when it comes to reproducing disease. Should we be looking beyond the current model to perhaps embrace the small-scale communal living model trialled in Holland or, even funding the fostering of the elderly in private homes with appropriate social care support?

Perhaps the care home model needs pared back to the end-of-life mode of nursing homes, which would be de facto hospices, let's be honest, but might at least give our future elderly a better chance at a longer, more rewarding life outside the petri dish.

Alistair Richardson, Stirling.

THE row about Dominic Cummings has been a godsend to the First Minister and her hapless Health Secretary as it is the perfect distraction from the Nike conference and care home scandals which have caused countless avoidable deaths, although they will in time both be brought to account for their (in)actions.

However, an important area also neglected is that of dentistry, though those people who have ongoing toothache and worse oral issues are all too familiar with the current scenario. There have been reports of individuals in such pain even after ingesting strong pain relief tablets that they have resorted to self help which in one case was ended by the individual concerned removing a molar with pliers.

Surely if dentists are given medical-grade PPE there is no need to keep them from practising and the public can be relieved of at least one painful debilitating condition they could definitely do without. If this cannot be done for reasons that I cannot really fathom at present, just what is current thinking within the Scottish Parliament that will enable dentists to start again treating their patients and giving them the treatments they so desperately need in ever increasing numbers?

James Martin, Bearsden.