An interactive dashboard published by BBC Scotland has revealed the full extent of COVID-linked care home deaths in Scotland.
Using Crown Office data, released under freedom of information requests, the dashboard shows every COVID-linked care home death in Scotland.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said the figures were consistent with an independent review carried out by Public Health Scotland last year.
The review found that care home size was “very strongly related to outbreaks” while also concluding there was no evidence linking hospital discharges with outbreaks.
The government said it intended to have a full public inquiry into the pandemic subject to the Scottish Parliament elections.
The data shows that Erskine Home care home in Bishopton had the largest number of COVID-related deaths at 32.
The analysis also show that single care homes accounted for a significant proportion of area deaths as in the case of HC-One’s Orchard Care Centre where 21 COVID-linked deaths represented 19% of the area’s total.
While larger providers reported the greatest number of deaths, fatalities appeared to be higher at operators with single services rather than those operating a chain.
For example, Advinia’s 11 homes averaged 17 COVID-linked deaths per residence, below the more than 20 deaths seen at some individual services.
A spokesperson for Erskine said: “Erskine has operated within Scottish Government guidelines and spared neither effort, nor resource in our whole team’s valiant, year-long battle against this terrible virus. There may be lessons to draw from our pandemic experience in the future, but now is not the time, as continuing to care for our residents in a safe and secure manner is still our main priority. Our own experts will work closely with social care and NHS colleagues to identify those lessons.”
Four Seasons Health Care Group commented: “It is through the tireless efforts of our colleagues and our robust infection control protocols that we have seen a lower than average death rate in all of our homes since June of last year. We continue to put all of our resources and energy into supporting and protecting everyone in our homes, not only to keep them safe but also to ensure that we are able to help them enjoy the best quality of life possible.”
Advinia said it operated some of the largest care homes in Scotland with over 100 residents.
The care home provider said that when adjusting for the greater than average size of its homes, its number of COVID-19 deaths were broadly in line with the overall sector.
Advinia also noted the lack of knowledge about the asymptomatic nature of the disease during the early stages of the pandemic and the initial lack of a robust testing system.
The provider also noted it took hospital discharges during the pandemic and said it had fully and openly communicated the COVID status of each home.
“All of our homes were as well prepared as they could have been at the time the pandemic started, and forward planning meant that we never faced a shortage of PPE,” Advinia said.
An HC-One spokesperson added: “We have worked tirelessly to protect our residents and colleagues, and took steps to lead on transparency throughout the pandemic. When little was known about the virus, HC-One published daily case numbers and death figures for its UK and Scottish homes, and engaged at length and in detail with health and care officials, our families, and the media.”
HC-One also highlighted that Crown Office data differed significantly from its own, indicating that 460 COVID-linked deaths had taken place in its homes as of 6 April.
The provider also indicated it operated a number of larger homes predominantly in metropolitan areas with high community transmission rates, which had not been factored into the comparisons.
Renaissance Care added over 300 hospital patients had been discharged into its homes since last March, “scores of whom” had not been tested for COVID.
“That we have lost so many beloved residents, despite the many safeguards taken by staff and management, underlines how devastating COVID can be once it enters care homes,” the spokesperson said.
A Barchester spokesperson said: “The First Minister and Health Secretary have acknowledged mistakes in Government policy and its support of social care were made, and particularly that it was a mistake to discharge people from hospital into care homes before COVID testing was in place.
“Throughout the pandemic our homes have had full PPE and their well-trained teams have worked tirelessly to follow infection control protocols in line with public health guidance which has constantly been changing. Due to the ongoing investigation by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal of all deaths linked to, or suspected to be linked to, COVID in care homes, we cannot comment on individual cases but our thoughts are with our residents, their families and friends and we are forever thankful for their kind support and kind wishes.”