Leading Scottish care home provider, Balhousie Care Group, has revealed the emotional and financial toll of a year of living with COVID.
The care group said the impact of the pandemic on staff, residents and relatives continued, while revealing extra business costs of over £500,000.
“Ten of our 26 homes have had COVID-positive cases but the emotional toll on residents, staff and relatives across all of our homes has been huge,” said Jill Kerr, Group Chief Executive Officer.
The care provider has lost 41 residents to COVID and seen 306 positive cases among residents and staff.
“It has hit the whole Balhousie family hard and that’s something that continues as we all adapt to the fact that dealing with this deadly virus is our new normal,” Jill added.
Linda (name changed for privacy reasons), a carer who worked through one of the group’s worst outbreaks, at Balhousie Lisden in Kirriemuir, where nine residents died after testing positive with COVID-19, said: “It was emotional coming home after work. I was scared for my family and felt I was putting them at risk being around them and working in the care home. But the hardest thing was the decline in the residents after contracting the virus. It was like a domino effect.”
The care home operator’s business costs related to COVID are estimated at around an extra £500,000, which includes spend on PPE, new thermal imaging cameras, cleaning equipment, private COVID tests, employment agency costs and the extra staff hours needed to administer tests and new protocols, as well as dealing with the additional inspections which the country’s care homes have been subject to.
Jill added: “Although our business has been damaged both emotionally and financially, we will recover. The sad fact is that many of our fellow care providers won’t. We already know of smaller providers who simply don’t have the capacity or financial leverage to cope with the additional pressures that have been put on the care sector.”
Balhousie said its staff’s “dedication to their job” had helped them pull through the pandemic.
“My passion for my job kept me going, that, and making sure residents were okay,” Linda said.
Jill concluded: “We felt the time was right to be fully transparent with how the last year has impacted us, in the hope that other care providers will follow. The public and politicians need to understand more fully what we as care home operators have been through and continue to go through and how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our sector forever.”