Fife care home boss reveals awful human toll of coronavirus

A Fife care home boss has revealed the terrible human toll caused by coronavirus, as he said there could have been as many as 14 deaths in one of his homes.

By Scott McCartney
Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 6:38 pm
Methven House in Kirkcaldy
Methven House in Kirkcaldy

Colin Smart confirmed that six residents had passed away at Methven House, Kirkcaldy, after contracting the virus - and there had been eight further deaths which, due to a lack of testing were presumed to have been a result of covid19.

The Kingdom Homes MD said his thoughts were with families and loved ones who had died - and he also paid tribute to staff who had gone “above and beyond” during the pandemic.

It follows unconfirmed media reports that 16 residents had died at Methven House in Kirkcaldy after contracting the virus.

Mr Smart said he had been “humbled” by staff who continued to care for residents in the most difficult of circumstances.

His comments come as politicians call for greater transparency in the care sector so the key areas of help can be identified for the industry.

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance also warned against any negativity being directed towards care facilities which find themselves hit by the tragedy.

Mr Smart said: “We first started to get symptomatic residents at Methven House in early April. Sadly from the beginning of April following a positive test there have been 6 deaths confirmed to be covid19 and a further 8 deaths which due to a lack of testing have been recorded as presumed to be attributed to covid19.

“We have offered our heartfelt condolences to each one of our families who have lost a loved one.”

At the care home, which houses 60 residents, Mr Smart said that staff had also been affected by the virus.

He said: “In addition we have had 6 staff who have tested positive. All of whom have either fully recovered and returned to work or are recovering.

“As a provider of elderly care for over 35 years we have never been more humbled and proud of our amazing staff teams who have collectively gone above and beyond to care for their residents in what are truly exceptional circumstances.”

Figures released last week showed that a total of 38 people across Fife had died in care homes with coronavirus mentioned on the death certificate.

Mr Smart added that the outbreak has not spread to any other of the firms facilities beyond the Bennochy Road home.

“Our company operates 12 care homes in Fife with over 1000 residents and staff and can confirm that we have no other outbreaks at this time.

“We have provided our managers and staff with up to date guidance and worked closely with the Health Protection Teams, Care Inspectorate and Fife Health and Social Care partnership always ensuring compliance and complete transparency through their notification processes.

“Sourcing PPE was a challenge initially, however we now have ample stocks and are being well supported with this by the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership.

“As an organisation we continue to monitor the health and wellbeing of our residents and each of our staff including and where applicable testing and isolating.

“We have ensured that we have kept in touch with our families and offered regular updates about what is happening in our care homes including the physical and spiritual well being of their loved ones.

“Our staff care deeply for our residents, they continue under the most difficult circumstances to place the residents welfare at the heart of everything they do.”

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance is among those calling for greater transparency, but warned against any negativity directed towards any care facilities.

He said: “Firstly, my thoughts and condolences are with the families who have lost loved ones during this pandemic.

“I would also like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for our care home workers who are currently working under the most tremendous pressure as they look after the most vulnerable in society.

“As a member of the parliamentary Health & Sport Committee, the impact of covid19 in care homes is something we have been looking at very closely at.

“It is clear that once the virus, or indeed any virus, is inside a home it will spread far more quickly than it does in the wider community, simply due to the structures in place and the obvious need for staff to be close to residents in order to effectively care for them.

“Once the virus has found a way in it is extremely difficult to contain the virus.

“That is why it is extremely important that we continue to look at all measures available to us to ensure the virus never enters in the first place.

“At this stage it would be harmful and unhelpful for any negativity to be directed towards care facilities which find themselves hit by this tragedy; however, it is vital, for the sake of public confidence that everyone is open and transparent.

“All over Fife our key workers are doing an incredible job which should be valued and respected.”

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley said he was also calling for greater transparency in the care industry.

He said: “I’ve been contacted by family members who have lost loved ones, and I’ve also been contacted by staff.

“I’ve written to the chief executives of Fife Council, the Care Commission, and NHS Fife, and the director of public health in Fife.

“I’m asking how they are supporting care homes.

I’ve got Andrew Rodger working with me, who is a health campaigner. Our view is that these care homes are being left to their own devices. Staff say that they are not sleeping at night they’re so terrified going into work.

“We can not allow this to continue, we need to know what the public authorities are doing to support them.

“My view is that no one should be coming in and out of these homes without being tested.”