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Size and location of service increased risk of COVID-19 deaths, regulator finds

Size of service, and geographical location – but not quality of care – are linked to COVID-19 related death, a report by the Care Inspectorate has found.

Data on COVID-19 care home deaths in Scotland reveals that between 16 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 the Scottish regulator received 3,774 notifications of deaths related to the virus from care homes.

Almost three in five homes in Scotland reported at least one COVID-19 related death, with care homes for older people most affected, accounting for almost all (99.7 per cent, 3,761) of all virus-related deaths.

In terms of size and location:

  • The research finds that as the size of a care home increased, so too did the rate of COVID-19 related deaths per 100 places. Rates varied from 2.1 deaths per 100 places in care homes with up to 20 places, rising to 12.6 deaths per 100 places in care homes with more than 80 places.
  • In care homes for older people there were 10.1 COVID-19 deaths per 100 places, with rates slightly higher in the voluntary and private sectors (10.4 and 10.2 respectively) compared with the public sector (8.6). This compares to an average of 0.4 virus-related deaths per 100 places in all adult care homes.
  • Care homes located in the most populated areas had higher rates of COVID-19 related deaths than those in the most remote areas: 11.6 per 100 places in large urban areas compared with 3.7 per 100 places in remote small towns.

A comparison of quality of each care home prior to the pandemic with rates of infection with this virus-related deaths shows no clear relationship between quality assessment received by the home and infection-related deaths.

The report makes no mention of movement of care staff, which has been blamed for COVID-19 infection rates in care homes in England.

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