An early draft of a study from the University of Manchester suggests there may have 10,000 more deaths of care homes residents than previously reported. The study compares statistical data on deaths in care homes between January 2017 and February 2020 with data from April to August 2020.
This study has not yet been peer reviewed, but notes that of the excess deaths, 65% were only directly attributed to Covid-19. That leaves the remaining 35% (10,000 deaths) that were not officially attributed to Covid-19. The question is what caused those excess 10,000 deaths.
We wrote at the start of this month about the government’s plans for visits to care homes and how this could be implemented in a Covid-secure manner. Such plans however were heavily criticised by the care home industry and families of residents. The government’s proposed measures required equipment such as screens and intercoms, so would cause difficulties for residents with dementia or cognitive difficulties, not to mention putting extra financial strain on homes in funding this equipment.
The importance of Safeguarding vulnerable adults residing in care homes has never been more important than during the pandemic. Care staff, be they managers, a carer, nurses or personal assistants are all facing this challenge .
The Care Act statutory guidance (para. 14.7, June 2020) defines adult safeguarding as:
“Protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances.”
Last month we reported that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was putting place plans to set up so called ‘COVID-19 positive’ care homes where patients could be discharged to from hospital rather than regular care homes. This plan was created with the intention of easing pressure on hospitals as well as ensuring residents are not admitted to care homes whilst potentially being infected with COVID-19. Local authorities had been asked to confirm suitable locations for such facilities by mid-October with a view to having these facilities up and running by the end of November.
At a coronavirus briefing on 28 October 2020, the First Minister quoted directly from a Public Health Scotland report published that day on ‘Discharges from NHS Scotland Hospitals to Care Homes between 1 March and 31 May 2020‘ (link here), saying “The analysis does not find statistical evidence that hospital discharges of any kind were associated with care home outbreaks.”
Many of you will have seen the reports of the crowdfunded claim being brought by Dr Cathy Gardner against the UK government in relation to their response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Gardner has sought judicial review of government policy relating to the decision to discharge Covid-19 positive patients to care homes when those already resident in the care homes were vulnerable. She wishes to obtain an explanation of what policies were put in place to ensure a ‘protective ring’ was placed around care homes but as at the time of preparing this article, Dr Gardner is of the view that the response from the government is insufficient.
Head of Commercial Litigation, Stuart Evans, discusses insolvency issues facing the care sector in our vlog series. These issues and more will be covered in our future of care provision webinar next week, Wednesday 7 October. You can watch the full video and register for the event here.
Partners Sarah Woodwark and Jane Lang discuss public v independent inquiries in the third episode of our vlog series, which leads to our future of care provision webinar on Wednesday, 7 October at 2pm. You can watch the full video and register for the event here.
On 26 September 2020, the Herald newspaper reported that “moving elderly from Scots hospitals to homes during coronavirus pandemic may have been illegal.” The article focuses on the discharge from hospitals to care homes of “hundreds” of adults lacking in full legal capacity (ability to make relevant decisions). Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Mental Health and Capacity Law has expressed concern that since the start of the COVID-19 (C-19) pandemic, movement from hospitals to care homes of adults without capacity may have taken place without due legal process and in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). ECHR rights said to be engaged include the right to personal liberty and security and the right to respect for private and family life. The CRPD aspect concerns equal rights for people with disabilities. Particular issues arising include the extent to which steps were taken to ascertain whether particular adults were capable of expressing a wish and whether family members and any legal guardian were consulted before people were moved.