The extent of care home Covid deaths in the north and north-east have been disclosed in new data published by the BBC.
It revealed that Torry care home in Aberdeen was one of the worst-affected care homes in Scotland, with 25 deaths giving it the eighth highest death rate in the country.
Castle Gardens care home in Invergordon reported 19 deaths, with Tor-Na-Dee care in Milltimber, Pitcairn Lodge nursing home in Westhill, and Rubislaw Park care home in Aberdeen all confirming 17 deaths.
In total, 54 facilities across the region reported at least one Covid-related death up to April 8.
The information comes from a Freedom of Information request to the Crown Office, which set up a unit to gather information on the circumstances of all Covid deaths in care homes.
17 facilities reported at least one Covid death.
22 facilities reported at least one Covid death.
Pitcairn Lodge registered the most Covid deaths, with 17.
Other badly-hit homes included Kirkburn Court in Peterhead (13), Inchmarlo House in Banchory (12), Mowat Court in Stonehaven (11), Ythanvale Home in Ellon (nine) and Wyndwell Care Home in Peterhead (nine).
In Moray, four care homes recorded Covid deaths.
Glenisla care home in Keith reported six, while Wakefield House in Cullen, Meadowlark in Forres, and Elgin’s Abbeyside nursing homes registered less than five.
In the Highlands, eight care homes reported at least one Covid death, with Castle Gardens registering the most with 19.
Fodderty House care home in Dingwall registered six.
Shetland and the Western Isles
On Shetland, only one care home reported Covid deaths, Wastview Care Centre (five).
On the Western Isles, two care homes recorded at least one Covid death, Taigh a’Chridhe Uile Naomh and Bethesda, with both registered less than five.
Across Scotland, the Crown figures revealed that at least 3,400 Scottish care home residents may have died from Covid since March 2020.
There have been more than 10,000 Covid-related deaths in the country, with about a third of those occurring in care homes.
The Crown compiled this list of presumed or confirmed deaths that have been reported to them.
National Records of Scotland (NRS) recorded 3,292 care home deaths over the same period.
The data showed that the Erskine Home facility in Erskine Ferry Road in Bishopton, recorded the largest number of Covid-related deaths (32).
Scottish Care released a statement in regards to the publication of this data, where they paid tribute to those who have lost their lives in care homes.
It read: “We note the publication by the BBC of data supplied by the Crown Office detailing the deaths of hundreds of people in Scotland’s care homes during the pandemic.
“This data demonstrates the terrible toll which has been felt by those who live, visit loved ones, and work in care homes as a result of coronavirus. However, whilst the numbers tell us one story there are many things that they do not communicate.
“The numbers do not describe the unique lives of special individuals who have been lost to the pandemic. Lives have been cut short before their time by a deadly virus.
“Behind each number is an individual who is loved and greatly missed by family and friends. Their loss is felt too by care home staff who have cared for and supported them for many months and years.
“The numbers do not describe the sad reality that those living in group and congregated settings such as care homes have been disproportionately affected across the world.
“They do not describe the reality that those who have suffered the most and who have died across the world are those who are very old and frail, and those living with multiple co-morbidities.
“The numbers of deaths tell part of the story but what they certainly do not tell of is the amazing professionalism, sacrifice, and dedication of frontline nursing and care staff who daily put themselves at risk and on the line to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens facing the threat of this deadly global virus.
“As we consider the numbers, we remember all the lives lost and the dedication of those who worked to save a life. As we consider the numbers, we would ask everyone to reach out to support the care homes, staff, residents, and families affected and to do so with compassion and solidarity.”
Care operators reaction
A spokesman for Renaissance Care, who runs Torry care home, along with 15 other facilities in Scotland, describes the deaths as “devastating.”
He said: “The tragic deaths caused by coronavirus at Torry Care Home have been devastating for families, loved ones, and staff.
“We locked down all our homes, including Torry, almost two weeks ahead of the Government lockdown, and ordered ample supplies of PPE in advance.
“However, since the middle of March last year over 300 hospital patients have been discharged into our care, scores of whom were not tested for Covid in advance.
“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.
“Weekly testing of staff, which was rolled out nationally some months after we first called for it, has helped to greatly reduce the impact of the second wave.
“We remain very grateful for the patience, co-operation, and support of our residents, their families, and our hard-working frontline staff who have spent the last year doing all they can to protect their residents.”
Care UK operates Tor-Na-Dee and Mowat Court care homes, and a spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with everyone who has been affected by the pandemic.
“Teams in all our homes have worked tirelessly to follow stringent infection control measures and to make sure residents are supported with kind and high-quality care. We are incredibly grateful for their dedication and hard work.”
Sanctuary Care runs Kintyre House and Pitcairn Lodge.
A spokesman for the operator said: “While we are proud of the way our staff has responded to the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, working hard to offer the highest possible standards of care, sadly a number of residents have passed away following positive cases in some of our homes in Scotland. Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those residents who have died.
“We continue to have regular contact with the Scottish Government’s Health and Social Care Directorate, as we have throughout these difficult times, and are closely following the updated public health guidance being given to care homes right across the United Kingdom.”
A spokeswoman for Barchester, who operates Kirkburn Lodge and Fairview House, revealed they were “deeply saddened” about the deaths at their facilities.
She added: “We are deeply saddened by the losses and we send our condolences to all family and friends affected. The teams within Fairview and Kirkburn have very high standards, and they are continuing to work relentlessly to do all they can to keep residents and staff safe from the virulent disease that is Covid-19.
“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 both Fairview and Kirkburn 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.
“There have been no Covid-positive residents at Kirkburn since last May and at Fairview since the beginning of February this year. This is testament to the dedication and compassion that our are staff are showing every day to keep our residents safe, including the regular testing of residents and staff.
“The hard work by the team at Kirkburn was recognised by the Care Inspectorate in December who rated the home as very good at giving care and support during the pandemic.
“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.”
Parklands Care Homes
Parklands Care Homes operate Glenisla care home in Keith and a spokesman said: “We are all devastated at the impact this virus has had on our residents, their families and the wider community. Keith and the surrounding area have been particularly badly affected.
“Our staff has worked tirelessly to keep residents safe and even as the vaccine is rolled out and restrictions are eased, we are continuing to follow robust infection prevention and control measures, as we have from the outset of this dreadful pandemic.”
A spokesman for Care Concern, who operates Rubislaw Park and Deeside care homes, added: “We extend our deepest sympathies to everyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one under any circumstance.
“Covid-19 has presented huge challenges for the care sector and this continues to be an extremely difficult time for those in our care, their families, friends and our staff.
“As always, their health, safety and wellbeing remains our main priority and as such, we are committed to doing everything we can to achieve this goal.
“We note the publication by the BBC of data supplied by the Crown Office and would refer any inquiries relating to this to the statement recently issued by Scottish Care on this matter.”
HC One, former operators of Home Farm Care Home on Skye and Castle Gardens Care Home in Invergordon, said that their data “differs significantly” from the data offered by the Crown, with 17 coronavirus related or suspected deaths at Castle Gardens and not 19.
The operator also said that the nationwide data for HC One was also incorrect, with their own data registering 460 deaths across Scotland.
A spokeswoman said their thoughts and sympathies are with all families who have lost loved ones and that HC One worked “tirelessly” to protect residents and colleagues, whilst also taking “steps to lead on transparency throughout the pandemic”.
She added: “We are continuing to strive to take all possible precautions to keep residents and colleagues in our Scottish homes safe and well” through methods such as infection control, testing, encouraging vaccine uptake and access to PPE.
The spokeswoman continued to say that thanks to the introduction of lateral flow testing, alongside vaccination, “we feel much better placed to protect our homes against outbreaks”.
She concluded: “We remain exceptionally grateful for the ongoing support and understanding of our residents and their loved ones, and we are very proud of how our team rose to the challenges of the last twelve months.”
We have reached out to Skene Enterprises, who run Inchmarlo House.