Analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s care-homes from March 2020 to October 2021: national linked data cohort analysis

Jennifer Kirsty Burton*, Megan McMinn, James Vaughan, Glenna Nightingale, Jacques Fleuriot, Bruce Guthrie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term care residents remains of wide interest, but most analyses focus on the initial wave of infections.

Objective: To examine change over time in: (1) The size, duration, classification and pattern of care-home outbreaks of COVID-19 and associated mortality; (2) Characteristics associated with an outbreak.

Design: Retrospective observational cohort study using routinely-collected data
Setting: All adult care-homes in Scotland (1,092 homes, 41,299 places)
Methods: Analysis was undertaken at care-home level, over three periods. Period (P)1 01/03/2020-31/08/2020; P2 01/09/2020-31/05/2021 & P3 01/06/2021-31/10/2021. Outcomes were the presence and characteristics of outbreaks and mortality within the care-home. Cluster analysis was used to compare the pattern of outbreaks. Logistic regression examined care-home characteristics associated with outbreaks.

Results: In total 296 (27.1%) care-homes had one outbreak, 220 (20.1%) had two, 91 (8.3%) had three, and 68 (6.2%) had four or more. There were 1,313 outbreaks involving residents: 431 outbreaks in P1, 559 in P2 and 323 in P3. The COVID-19 mortality rate per 1,000 beds fell from 45.8 in P1, to 29.3 in P2, and 3.5 in P3. Larger care-homes were much more likely to have an outbreak, but associations between size and outbreaks were weaker in later periods.

Conclusions: COVID-19 mitigation measures appear to have been beneficial, although the impact on residents remained severe until early 2021. Care-home residents, staff, relatives and providers are critical groups for consideration and involvement in future pandemic planning.

Long-term care, COVID-19, epidemiology, care-homes, data linkage
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • long-term care
  • COVID-19
  • epidemiology
  • care-homes
  • data linkage
  • older people


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