Home Farm families told to anticipate “upsetting” care report findings

A damning report into the care being provided at the Isle of Skye’s Home Farm nursing home is expected to be published later this week.

Relatives of residents at the home – where 10 people died amid a major coronavirus outbreak – have been told to anticipate “upsetting” findings when the Care Inspectorate’s findings are published.

After the Care Inspectorate visited the home in May, a court action was lodged to remove the care licence from the Home’s operators HC One.

In a letter received today by the families, which has been shared with the Free Press, HC-One Managing Director John Kirk apologised to the residents and their families for falling “far short” of the level of care expected at the home.

He wrote: “I am writing to you to inform you of the publication of the Care inspectorate’s report following its inspections at Home Farm in early May, which we anticipate being published in the coming days.

“I also want to make you aware there is likely to be significant media attention on the findings of the report and therefore the home.

“As you will recall, this is the report about the Care Inspectorate’s legal action against us back in May.

“We are extremely disappointed with the findings outlined in the report, some of which you may find upsetting to read.

“We fell far short of the level of care and service that we expect of ourselves, and that you and our residents expect of us, and we can only apologise for this.”

Clare MacDonald’s father Ali MacDonald is one of the residents currently living in Home Farm.

Commenting on the letter from HC-One she told the Free Press: “I’m very keen to read the report to find out exactly how bad the situation in the home had become.

“I didn’t see my dad for three months and even now I am only able to visit him at the window, so although I am being told things have improved, and I’m sure they have, I haven’t been able to see this for myself.

She added: “It’s also a concern that so much uncertainty surrounds the long-term management of the home.”

Ali MacDonald.

Last Thursday (2nd July) relatives of the 10 Home Farm residents who died met online to form a support group.

One of those present at the meeting was Skye Councillor John Gordon, who lost his father John Angus in May.

John Angus passed away in the home at the age of 83 a few days after he tested positive for Covid-19.

John Angus Gordon passed away in May at Home Farm a few days after testing positive for Covid-19.

Speaking to the Free Press about the support group, John said: “We feel there has been no closure in what has happened and I don’t think we will have that for a long time yet.

“Everyone has struggled with the lack of communication from HC-One and NHS Highland in the period our loved ones died, indeed I’ve not heard from HC-One at all, apart from the frontline carers.

“This group will be scrutinising the investigation going forward, it has to be as transparent and honest as possible.

“We have much evidence to add and we wait to be contacted for statements.”

Commenting on the letter received today by the families who have loved ones in the home, Councillor Gordon welcomed the correspondence from HC-One, but added: “I don’t think they are fit to be responsible for our elderly population and do we really want a company whose whole purpose is care yet they have failed on so many levels!”

Mr Kirk went on to state in his letter that the Care Inspectorate’s report from its May inspections was “in no way a reflection of the level of care and service being provided at the home today.”

He added: “As you know the home has acted quickly and worked incredibly hard to address the Care Inspectorate’s concerns.

“The team has made, and continues to make significant improvements to the standards at the home and we are grateful for colleagues’ commitment to making sure that we work towards delivering the highest quality of care for the residents in the home.

“Our priority is making sure that the best possible care service is provided at Home Farm, and we are committed to working with NHS Highland to this end.

“In the meantime, we know both the NHS and the Care Inspectorate will be closely monitoring the home and HC-One, and we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate that we have the right measures and quality controls in place.

“I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your understanding during this challenging time and for your support for the local team…”

At the most recent court hearing held on 24th June, Sheriff MacDonald ordered answers to be lodged by operators HC-One in three weeks as to how they plan to robustly address the issues identified by the Care Inspectorate and manage the home safely.

However, Ian Blackford MP went on to state shortly after the Sheriff’s ruling that the action had “paved the way” for the transfer of ownership to NHS Highland.

The Free Press has asked the Care Inspectorate when the report will be published – we are currently awaiting a response.