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Coronavirus / Nineteen care clients showing coronavirus symptoms

NINETEEN people across the isles receiving care from Shetland Islands Council either in a residential facility or at home are currently showing symptoms of coronavirus, according to chief executive Maggie Sandison.

Those 19 are being barrier nursed to prevent any potential spread of the virus.

“We don’t know whether they are positive, but they are symptomatic, so we are working with them as though they may be positive,” Sandison said on Tuesday.

It comes after two residents at a care home in Shetland tested positive for Covid-19 in late March.

SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison. Photo: Shetland News
SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison. Photo: Shetland News

Sandison, meanwhile, reiterated that Shetland Islands Council care staff are adhering to guidance from Health Protection Scotland on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“When you’re delivering personal care, we normally use gloves and aprons, but if somebody is symptomatic then we use fluid resistant masks and also goggles,” she said.

“So that’s the full PPE. So I think people are thinking that the PPE levels need to be same as you would see in hospital, where you’re doing more intrusive interactions with patients. The full PPE that we would use is being adhered to.”

Sandison added that the guidance for PPE in residential care homes and care at home services is the same.

The council chief also conceded it was a “really worrying and challenging time for care staff” who are working on the frontline during the pandemic.

She said the council has been putting messages out to staff and is having regular meetings to try and keep them as well informed as possible.

“I think the really sad thing for me is that actually some of our staff have experienced reactions from people in the community,” Sandison said.

“I don’t think they all feel supported by people in the community because some of them are thinking somehow they are a risk to people, and they aren’t.

“I think there’s a sense that people are treating them differently from other people in the community, so we’ve heard information either on social media or about interactions that they’ve had in businesses in the area where they live, that people are being treated differently from other people.”

The council, meanwhile, is putting extra staff resources into dealing with care clients who have dementia.

It can be a challenge to implement social distancing, for instance, for those struggling with memory.

“What we’re trying to do is find ways of working with clients, because some of them can’t remember that they should be social distancing as well, so we’ve given them advice but they may not retain that advice,” Sandison said.

“We are putting on extra staff to support people with dementia, to make sure they maintain their safety and the safety of others, and we’re working with them to make sure they’ve still got activities that are meaningful for them.

“But we’ve also seen some reduction in anxiety for some dementia clients. For instance in some of the care homes because there’s less activity happening in the communal areas and there’s less hustle and bustle and less visitors, and that’s had an impact in a positive way rather than in a negative way.”

For the latest guidance on coronavirus, visit the NHS Inform website.