At the request of several concerned members of the local community we sent the following letter to the Chair of the Health and Social Care Partnership for Argyll and Bute:
I write on behalf of the Tiree Community Council in connection with concerns expressed to us by a number of residents regarding the fact that two staff (senior social workers, we are told) have on two occasions now travelled from the mainland to the island, spending significant time in the care home over a couple of days, apparently for the purpose of carrying out meetings with other staff, dealing with paperwork and such. There is great concern being expressed at the risk that this poses in terms of possible transmission of COVID-19 to the island, and particularly to the home place of some of our most at-risk residents, and why these staff meetings and paperwork could not be accomplished via electronic means, telephone, web conference and such in order to avoid that risk.
A previous attempt to query this matter following complaints being made to us about it resulted in a response that seemed to rest solely on an assertion that this was a matter for managers to decide, but we were left without any satisfactory explanation as to why the work could not have been delivered in an alternative, remote, way, A new wave of complaints has now come to us following a further visit. We realise there may well be very good reasons why this work absolutely had to be carried out in person, but the people contacting us seem to be firmly of the impression that it wasn’t about providing key worker support to care residents that couldn’t have been provided locally or remotely, but rather about administrative staffing matters.
Many of us here on the island have had to adapt to working fully remotely, unable to travel back and forth, and have done so knowing that this helps keep our community (which faces particular challenges and risks compared to the mainland) safe – so you will understand the concern about this when there is a question of it being truly essential, and given the current climate of well-justified fear for the well-being of our older family members this has led to understandably strong feelings on the subject being expressed to us.
We would be grateful if you could look into this and help either find an explanation that would reassure our community, or prompt a review of the necessity of what seems a risky activity which may be avoidable.
Phyl Meyer, Secretary
Tiree Community Council
We have received the following response from Kieron Green, Policy Lead for Health and Social Care:
“Careful consideration is given before mainland based Health and Social Care Partnership staff travel to islands, including Tiree, to conduct essential work. All appropriate precautions are then taken in terms of physical distancing, accommodation and minimising interactions on the island when not working. Additionally for further assurance, and as the individuals involved are entering a care environment, they are being tested on a weekly basis for COVID-19.”
“Travel in this instance has been necessary due to the requirement to maintain the safe operation of Health and Social Care Partnership facilities, ensure high levels of care quality for residents and users of services, and give staff appropriate levels of management supervision and support. It has not been possible to facilitate this on a remote basis due to the nature of the work involved, including the need to directly observe the environment which care is provided in.”
Councillor, Oban North and Lorn