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Concerns remain about the running of Skye care home despite improvements

Home Farm Care Home in Skye
Home Farm Care Home in Skye

Inspectors still have concerns about the way a Skye care home is being managed and led and have given operators NHS Highland a new deadline to make improvements.

An inspection by the Care Inspectorate in January identified “poor and potentially abusive practice” at the Home Farm care home in Portree.

A follow up last month showed the home had failed to meet five requirements due to be resolved by February 26.

The timescale for improvements has been extended until June 15.

Home Farm was at the centre of controversy last year when ten residents died of coronavirus.

The Care Inspectorate raised a legal action to cancel the then operator HC-One’s registration following an inspection last May which raised serious concerns about the running of the home.

Home evaluated as ‘adequate’

The action was later dropped and NHS Highland, which was brought in to help manage the home, formally took over its running in November.

Last month three members of staff at the home were suspended while an investigation was held into bullying allegations, believed to pre-date the NHS takeover.

Police also confirmed three men were arrested in February following a report regarding the conduct of staff at the home.

They were released without charge after no criminality was established.

The Care Inspectorate’s January report evaluated the home on a scale of 1-6  and found that overall it was operating at level 3, which represents a grading of “adequate”.

However it was marked at level 2 – or “weak” – with regards leadership and for care and support during the pandemic.

The report reads: “The provider had identified poor and potentially abusive practice in the home which meant that people may have been at risk of harm.

“The manager and nursing staff were introducing changes to enable people to feel safe and relaxed in their home.

“By the end of this inspection the provider had taken action to improve people’s safety”.

It added that some staff did not know what to do, or did not take action, when people living in the home may have been at risk of harm.

Some staff reported they had not received any training in adult support and protection.

Significant work needed

Inspectors found kitchen and dining areas were dirty and food was not stored safely.

Equipment, including raised toilet seats and shower seats, had stains and contamination on them and bins, including clinical waste bins, were broken and overflowing with PPE.

The follow-up report said most staff had completed basic adult protection training, but significant work is needed to make sure employees understand and follow professional codes of practice.

Inspectors said since the appointment of a manager and deputy manager were examples of well-led improvement planning, but there are still significant areas for improvement.

They added: “While there were individual examples of good leadership there is still a concern about the way the home is being managed and led.”

The latest report also said improvements meant people were living in a safer care home.

Residents could be confident that food was safely prepared and stored, most areas were clean and worn out furniture and mattresses were being replaced.

Enough bins in the right locations were helping to prevent the spread of infection, but there were some dirty raised toilet seats.

Work on recommendations underway

Councillor John Gordon, whose father died of Covid in the home, said: “I’m saddened to read this report, which highlights serious concerns and improvements that still need addressing.

“I hope the staff and management are being supported by NHS Highland in turning the home around so it is a caring, safe environment.”

A NHS Highland spokesman said: “NHS Highland is continuing to work towards the recommendations outlined in the Care Inspectorate’s report.

“The Covid-19 restrictions which have been in place over the last few months have limited our progress, however plans are being implemented as the restrictions are reduced.

“Work to address some of these recommendations is well underway.”

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