New research has found that coronavirus outbreaks are more likely in large care homes.
The study by NHS Lothian and Edinburgh University, which was revealed by The Guardian, found that “care home size was strongly associated with outbreaks”, with the level of risk tripling with every additional 20 beds.
The analysis of testing, COVID-19 cases and deaths was based on a survey of 189 care homes providing 5,843 beds in a large Scottish Health Board covering the period up to 15 June.
The study found there was a 5% risk of an outbreak in homes with less than 20 residents, which rose to between 83% and 100% for homes with 60 to 80 residents.
It recommends the establishment of infection control ‘bubbles’ in large care homes to stave off the risk of infection.
Prof Bruce Guthrie, the director of the Advanced Care Research Centre at Edinburgh University and associate researcher at Health Data Research UK, said: “More footfall will give you more risk of infection.
“Although care home size cannot be altered without losing places for existing residents, there may be potential to create discrete units within care homes where smaller numbers of staff and residents are effectively cohorted to create self-contained units.”
Director of standards at HC-One, Liz Whyte, said the risk of infection caused by high numbers of staff in large care homes could be mitigated, adding: “In a large service you can create smaller services, cohorting your staff and having a safe way of working with shared kitchen and laundry staff.
“That is now in place. Until there is a cure, we have to work as if we are in an outbreak.”