Care homes in Alexander Burnett' s Aberdeenshire West constituency were “left scrambling for generators” after the November 25 storm, causing “major concerns about the most vulnerable residents”. Private and council-run care homes struggled to source generators and diesel while SSEN engineers toiled to turn the power back on in rural areas.
He cited figures obtained from the Scottish Government, which showed inspections declined by almost a fifth pre-pandemic, and said these would have identified gaps in resilience for utilities disruption.
He said: “The number of inspections to care homes has decreased by 41% — from 1,372 inspections in 2016-17 to just 812 in 2020-21. This decline was happening even before the pandemic. Following Storm Arwen, it came to light that a number of care homes and assisted living sites did not have adequate resilience planning — something which would have been picked up by inspections.
“Does the Minister agree that the reduced resilience is a direct result of the decrease in the number of inspections and what actions will you take to rectify this?”
Mr Stewart acknowledged criticism of reducing the number of inspections further during the pandemic but did not comment on the year-on-year decline before 2020.
He said: “During the early stages of the Coronavirus outbreak, the Care Inspectorate with the agreement from Scottish ministers, took the decision to scale down inspections, recognising inspections may put an unnecessary burden on the care sector, could have also contributed to the spreading of COVID 19 and put their inspectors at risk. However, this decision has been criticised, but it was the right thing to do.”
Mr Burnett added: “I hoped Mr Stewart would explain the long-term reduction before Covid-19, but will continue to press him for answers and whether this trend will be reversed.”