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Aberdeenshire MSP urges turnaround in care home inspection slump

By Kirsty Brown

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Official inspections to care homes have plunged over the last five years and must be ramped up, according to a north east MSP.

New figures reveal Care Inspectorate visits to Scotland’s care homes have declined since 2016, with only 812 inspections in 2020-21 compared to 1,372 in 2016-17.

And in the last year before the Covid-19 pandemic, visits had declined to 1,129.

MSP Alexander Burnett’s Aberdeenshire West constituency includes a large number of local authority and privately-run care homes, and he is concerned about the impact a decreasing inspection regime could have on residents.

On December 14, it was confirmed a public inquiry will examine care home deaths in a wider Scottish public inquiry into how the authorities handled Covid.

He believes an investigation into the 1,300 hospital residents discharged to homes last March should go "hand in hand" with inspections.

The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “Undoubtedly the pandemic has had some impact on how inspectors do their jobs, with technology being used to conduct interviews and see residents.

“However, this is not a Covid-only trend as visits have declined over the last five or so years.

“These are vital to find issues – and also good practice – in these settings.

“The media has been full of reports of understaffing in social care, which could impact on the wellbeing of residents and must be reflected in inspections.

“And considering the many tragedies which took place in Scotland’s homes since March 2020, it is imperative that families receive up-to-date information about these care settings.

"This would go hand in hand with the judge-led inquiry.”

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