Home Farm court action ceased as Care Inspectorate drops case against HC-One

The court case to cancel the registration of the operators of a nursing home on Skye where 10 people died following an outbreak of coronavirus has been dropped today by the Care Inspectorate.

The Care Inspectorate announced this afternoon that it had ceased its application to cancel HC-One’s service registration of Home Farm in Portree following careful monitoring of the nursing home.

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said that the regulatory body was satisfied that there had been “considerable improvement in the quality of care experienced by residents and that the issues that were putting them at serious risk had been addressed.”

The statement went on to read: “In light of this we have decided to no longer pursue the cancellation of the service’s registration through the courts.”

In May, the Care Inspectorate applied to the court to cancel HC-One’s registration of Home Farm over “serious and significant concerns”

Ten residents who tested positive for Covid-19 have died at the Portree home since a major outbreak of the virus was confirmed in the final week of April.

Three hearings have taken place to date, while the next one was due to take place on 21st August prior to this afternoon’s announcement.

In July the relatives of residents at the home were told in a letter from operators HC-One to anticipate “upsetting” findings in the “coming days” with respect to a report by the Care Inspectorate based on its visits of the home in May.

However, the Care Inspectorate informed the Free Press later that week that the report would not be published until the current court proceedings had concluded.

Speaking to the Free Press earlier today before the news broke, Portree resident Fay Thomson, whose sister Meg is currently a resident at Home Farm, said the home was being run by a “patchwork of temporary managers”

She said: “There is currently no permanent manager. Jackie MacDonald, who was managing for months has returned to Perthshire and we got no notice of her departure, I was told in a phone call that she was gone.

“There is a patchwork of temporary managers planned until September and seemingly nothing after that.

“I have no idea how residents are to be cared for post-court case.

Commenting on the current situation regarding visitation, she said: “I want to know when proper visits will be possible again.

“Window visits are pretty upsetting as my sister doesn’t recognise us with masks and distance.”

Fay went on to say: “Would like to know what’s in the Care Inspectorate’s report.

“Especially as we’ve been told it is likely to be upsetting.

“And we would like to know who will be managing Home Farm in the future.”

Following the third court hearing in June, Ian Blackford MP stated shortly after the Sheriff’s ruling that the action had “paved the way” for the transfer of ownership to NHS Highland.

However, operators, HC-One, and NHS Highland – who have provided assistance at the home since the Care Inspectorate’s action back in May – both remained tight-lipped over the future of Home Farm.

When asked again this week whether the local health authority would be taking over the running of Home Farm, a spokesperson for NHS Highland told the Free Press: “Discussions continue between NHS Highland, HC-One, The Highland Council and the Care Inspectorate regarding Home Farm Care Home in Portree.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for HC-One said: “We are in discussions with NHS Highland regarding Home Farm Care Home.”

More to follow in this week’s Free Press, out on Thursday.