Operators admit mistake in reporting of first Covid-19 case at Skye care home

Home Farm care home in Portree

Operators HC One have admitted they were wrong to report that there had been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 linked to Portree’s Home Farm care home until Wednesday of this week.

A staff member, who began showing symptoms of coronavirus last Friday (24th April) was tested on Sunday and the positive result was confirmed the following day (Monday 27th).

Blanket screening got underway in the care home on Tuesday – and by yesterday (Thursday) details began to emerge that the virus had spread.

The outbreak was confirmed by NHS Highland and HC-One in public statements released on Thursday morning.

Reports about coronavirus at the Portree care home had been circulating locally since Monday, when a Facebook post from Liz Castle detailed that her son Mike – who works at Home Farm – had tested positive.

When the Free Press contacted HC-One on Wednesday a spokesman said that there had been no confirmed cases up until the afternoon of that day.

The spokesperson said tests returned that day made it clear coronavirus was present in the home, but that relatives would need to be informed before any details would be made public.

The spokesman has since said that it was a mistake not to initially recognise the staff member’s positive test from Monday.

He told the Free Press: “What the lady has said on Facebook is correct. This was my mistake and one that wasn’t picked up in the sign-off process.

“I misunderstood the information provided by our area director because normally we talk about residents, rather than staff members.

“The rest of the information is correct, and our protocol is to contact families once a resident has been tested and confirmed, so we did still need to pause whilst that process was completed.

“I’m very sorry for the incorrect information.

“There was no attempt to not be transparent. In fact, HC-One has been the most transparent care provider. Data on our cases and deaths is published daily on our website.”

The latest data showed there had been 694 suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 at HC-One care homes in Scotland, and that 151 residents had sadly passed away with either suspected or confirmed Covid-19.

Mrs Castle told the Free Press that she felt HC-One’s mistake had suggested she had “fabricated the story”, when she was seeking to be as transparent as possible.

She said the testing process was thorough and added that management had been in constant contact to check on her son’s welfare.

Her son – who is asthmatic – remains at home and she described his condition as “very poorly”.