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NHS Highland to take over Skye care home which suffered outbreak of Covid where 10 residents died

Home Farm Nursing Home in Portree, Skye.
Home Farm Nursing Home in Portree, Skye.

NHS Highland is to take over ownership of the Skye care home which was at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak where 10 residents died, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.

The Health Secretary made the announcement today at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing.

Home Farm Care Home in Portree was at the centre of an outbreak in late April where 10 residents died after contracting Covid-19.

At the height of the outbreak, 29 residents and 27 members of staff tested positive.

Ms Freeman said: “I am pleased to announce that the wellbeing of the current residents at Home Farm, which has been a priority for the Scottish Government, has been secured by NHS Highland who are to purchase this care home from the current provider HC One.

“At the end of April and following a complaint to Care Inspectorate, together with a notification of Covid-19 outbreak, NHS Highland undertook comprehensive testing at the home which resulted in a significant number of residents and staff testing positive for the virus.

“The Care Inspectorate then undertook two inspections within a week of each other and following the second of these concluded that the living circumstances and quality of care were such that they applied to the courts for an interim suspension order and emergency cancellation of the care home’s registration under the powers that the Care Inspectorate have.

“NHS Highland had stepped in to provide significant levels of support to the care home and to improve the standards of care and cleanliness to look after the residents and safeguard their wellbeing.

“As a result, the circumstances of care were improved delivered by a warm and caring local workforce under the leadership of NHS Highland.

“In response to that improvement, that was evidenced by continuous visits by the Care Inspectorate through July and August, the Care Inspectorate took the decision that the grounds for the emergency cancellation application no longer applied.

“But the long term stability that assures residents and staff are as critical to us so we have worked closely with NHS Highland and the Care Inspectorate to secure this.

“Significant improvements have been made in the quality of care offered at Home Farm with support from the health board, Care Inspectorate, the local council and of course the staff there.

“Improved infection prevention control, use of PPE, training of staff, cleanliness of premises and the maintenance of adequate staffing levels all pour relevance to providing safe residential and nursing care to all the residents who are there.

“NHS Highland have secured the purchase with £900,000 of additional funding from the Scottish Government and the transfer of the care home to NHS Highland will involve the transfer of the staff into the employment of the NHS with improved terms and conditions and importantly job security.

“The future ownership of this home by NHS Highland also provides an assurance to people on the island that the provision of residential nursing care in their community will continue.”

The announcement comes after a plea last month for the Scottish Government to intervene to transfer the Covid-hit care home into the public sector.

Call for government funding to transfer care home to public sector

NHS Highland and Highland Council were understood to have offered to take over health and social care at the home but required additional funding estimated to be around £1 million a year.

Skye councillor John Gordon, whose father John Angus died in the home, previously said: “There is no confidence and trust in HC-One locally so it’s the right course of action that the NHS are the providers of care.

“The Scottish Government now needs to fully fund NHS Highland and the Highland Council in terms of capital costs and running costs as both these organisations are cash-strapped.”

Legal action had been taken against HC One by the Care Inspectorate for “serious and significant concerns” identified in an inspection report in May, however, these were later dropped.

HC One, who operate 56 homes across Scotland, said it did not know the source of infection that lead to the outbreak in Home Farm.

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