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Care Homes Review

– in the Scottish Parliament on 27th May 2020.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

7. To ask the First Minister when the Scottish Government will commence its review of care homes. (S5F-04165)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

As I have said already today, I have no doubt that at an appropriate time, after we have dealt with the immediacy of the crisis, there will be inquiries and reviews of how Governments have handled it.

As I have also said, the reality is that hindsight allows people to look at decisions that were made in the past, and to apply knowledge of the virus that we have only now. We have, and always will, take the right decisions based on the best information that we have, and we will adapt those decisions as new information changes what we know.

Earlier in May, we announced new arrangements to significantly strengthen oversight of Scotland’s care homes. They involve clinical and care professionals undertaking targeted reviews of support in all care homes. Prior to Covid-19, we had started to look at ways to improve care home sustainability as part of our adult social care reform programme, which the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport launched with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities last year.

We will use the learning from the Covid-19 pandemic to identify what that

means for the future of care home provision—for example, how provision is organised and funded.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

Transferring older people from hospitals to care homes without testing, the lack of personal protective equipment and the slow provision of testing for staff have contributed to care homes being the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Therefore, I will welcome an inquiry, but I also welcome the separate review of care homes that appeared to be announced by the health secretary a few days ago.

The Scottish Government has been here before, however. Let me refresh the First Minister’s memory. A ministerial task force on the future of residential care for older people reported in March 2014, and its report contained 34 recommendations. How many of those recommendations have been implemented, in particular the recommendations on managing risk and care home governance? I am told by social care professionals that the answer is that only a handful have been implemented. What is the point of a review if the First Minister fails to implement its recommendations?

The First Minister:

On the first question, I will happily write to Jackie Baillie with a detailed answer because I do not have that information in front of me.

Jackie Baillie knows, as all members do, about the variety of work that has been done around social care—not the least of which has been the integration of health and social care over recent years. It is important that we learn from the crisis and that we consider afresh, based on what we know and have learned throughout it, what the longer-term future of the care home sector might be.

As I believe I said to Richard Leonard, my job right now is to focus on the crisis that is in front of us, and to continue to take the best possible decisions, based on the best evidence. We will, after that, have time for reviews and inquiries, and I will welcome them. I mean that sincerely. However, I am not going to take my eye off the ball in respect of dealing with what lies in front of us, because it is still a serious concern for people across Scotland and across the globe.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

We move to supplementary questions, for which I have a lot of requests. We will run until half past one, so I ask members to be succinct.