Home Farm farce: “beyond shambolic” communication leaves families no closer to care report findings

Families impacted by the coronavirus tragedy at Home Farm nursing home on Skye face a lengthy wait to access a damning care report despite being told to expect “upsetting” findings in the coming days.

On Monday, the Free Press reported that relatives of residents at the home – where 10 people died amid a major coronavirus outbreak – were told in a letter from operators HC-One to anticipate “upsetting” findings in the “coming days” with respect to the Care Inspectorate visits of the home in May.

However, this afternoon the Care Inspectorate has informed the Free Press that the report would not be published until the current court proceedings had concluded.

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “The inspection report will be published on the conclusion of the court proceedings which we are not able to give a timescale on.

“We can only advise that the date for the next court hearing has been set to take place on 21 August.”

Responding to the news, one relative told the Free Press today that it was “causing no end of stress to staff and families.”

In the letter received on Monday by some of the families, HC-One managing director John Kirk stated: “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…”

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”

Mr Kirk went on to say in his letter: “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.”

The Free Press contacted HC-One to ask why they informed families to expect the report in the “coming days” when the Care Inspectorate stated that a date had not been set for its publication.

A spokesperson for HC-One said: “We anticipated the publication of the report around the weekend that has just passed based on our knowledge of the normal process.

“The letter that was sent out was merely designed to provide families with an update on what we expected to happen, in line with their desire for greater communication from HC-One.”

Diane Smith’s mother Sylvia Ladlow is a resident at Home Farm, however, Diana is one of a few relatives who didn’t receive a copy of the letter sent by HC-One earlier this week.

“I have been in touch with Home Farm and the manager has apologised for the error in not sending the letter to me and emailed a copy to me,” she said.

“I hope that they will now ensure I’m included in all correspondence.”

She went on to say: “I also have to say that my mum now seems to be keeping well and to be happy and contented in the home now.

“While it is a worry about what is in the Care Inspectorate’s report, and I expect it will cause a lot of reaction, my main concern is the ongoing wellbeing of my mum and the other residents and satisfactory resolution to the ongoing running and management of the home.”

Fay Thomson’s sister Meg Cameron is also a resident at the home, however, Fay also didn’t receive a letter.

Reacting to this afternoon’s developments, she was unequivocal in her appraisal of HC-One’s communication skills.

“Communication with relatives has been dire and it’s only getting worse.

“We’ve had times when there has been no communication whatsoever, then some pretty meaningless letters, now we’re getting completely conflicting reports from HC-One, the Care Inspectorate, NHS Highland and our politicians.

She added: “It’s beyond shambolic and causing no end of stress to staff and families.”

The families were also exposed to mixed messages last month following the most recent court hearing held on 24th June.

At the hearing, 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.