HC-One’s registration to operate the Home Farm nursing home in Skye can continue for a further two weeks, a sheriff has ruled.
Ten residents who tested positive for Covid-19 have died since a major outbreak of the virus was confirmed at Home Farm in the final week of April.
In May, the Care Inspectorate applied to the court to cancel the registration of Home Farm over “serious and significant concerns”.
The decision came today (Wednesday) at Inverness Sheriff Court during what was the second date of the hearing.
Addressing the court, Sheriff MacDonald said: ‘”I appreciate that the situation is extremely complex, I see that the parties are working together.
“I am content at the joint motion before me that this should be continued for two weeks, so I will continue consideration of the interim matters for two weeks.
“These matters are dealt with by way of summary application, this is designed to be a relatively swift process so we want to make sure that parties are going to be in a position very soon to indicate how this action is to be progressed further, so I will continue this hearing in two weeks.”
Concerns not alleviated
Speaking on behalf of the pursuer, Roddy Dunlop QC said: “As I indicated in moving for a continuation, there would be an ongoing process of collaboration and dialogue with a view to addressing the concerns that had arisen in the minds of the pursuer and as were acknowledged by the defender.”
Mr Dunlop said that there had been a process of ongoing monitoring and that the Care Inspectorate had been involved in an inspection at Home Farm until 6 pm on Tuesday night.
He added: “I’m happy to recount improvements but it would be wrong of me to suggest that the concerns of the pursuer have been completely alleviated.”
“In particular it is the sense of the pursuer’s inspectors, that, to an extent, the improvements are as a result of, and indeed contingent on, the intervention of NHS Highland.
“And it is known, that for obvious reasons, the intervention of NHS Highland will not and cannot last forever.
“There will come a point in time, and it is anticipated that may be soon, at which NHS Highland are required to depart, and the concern on the part of the inspectorate is that a robust system, with particular emphasis on management, is in place for the departure of NHS Highland in order that there be no recurrence of the problems that led to the application being made in the first place.”
Improvements a “truly collaborative effort”
In response and speaking on behalf of the defence, Peter Gray QC said: “I reject entirely the suggestion by my learned friend that the improvements which have been made to-date at Home Farm, are due essentially to the efforts of NHS Highland rather than those whom I represent.
He went on to add: “…I will undertake to ensure that when the case next calls that my lady is provided with documentary evidence which demonstrates that the improvements which have been made are as the result of a truly collaborative effort and have been recognised as such by the pursuer’s inspectorate and by NHS Highland.
“In so far as the pursuer’s concerns about the future management of the home, processes will be in place as and when the personnel of NHS Highland leave the premises.”
NHS Highland to continue partnership approach
In a statement released this afternoon, a spokesperson for NHS Highland said: “NHS Highland’s primary aim is to see the best possible care for the residents of Home Farm care home.”
The statement went to say that the local health authority would continue to support a “partnership approach to effectively manage the situation at Home Farm care home on Skye” and that it would have “senior leadership and care provision in place on a 24/7 basis to support the recovery and sustainability plan until the improved standards of care are sustained.”
NHS Highland said it has a commitment from HC-One to continue working with them towards maintaining progress and stabilising leadership arrangements.
NHS Highland and HC-One will be writing to the relatives and residents of Home Farm care home to update them on the current situation.
The interim order hearing will continue on 24th June and the procedural hearing, which was due to take place on 17th June, will also now be heard on the 24th June.
Skye MSP Kate Forbes
“As the local MSP, my priority is to see the highest standard of care delivered at Home Farm in Portree. I am in touch with the Care Inspectorate, who continues to regularly inspect the home and monitor the situation.
“The suggestion today is that NHS Highland’s intervention has been critical in improving the standards of care, and I will be speaking to NHS Highland later today for the latest update.
“The outbreak at Home Farm, where there have been 10 deaths, has been difficult for everybody in the local community and particularly for relatives and friends.
“I will continue to speak to local relatives and members of staff to ensure that the public messages of assurance are consistent with experiences on the ground.”
Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands MSP
” I know this is a difficult and distressing time for residents, their loved ones, and staff at the home. And it is disappointing that this court case continues to rumble on, but the welfare of the residents has to be at the forefront.”