Skye care home operator in talks over transferring facility to NHS

NO F19 home farm care home
Home Farm Care Home at Portree. Photograph: BBC Scotland. NO F19 home farm care home

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Care home operator HC-One has confirmed it is in advanced talks with the NHS over transferring responsibility for the running of its home in Portree on Skye where 10 elderly residents died after an outbreak of coronavirus earlier this summer.

The confirmation follows news that the Care Inspectorate has dropped its court action to get HC-One’s registration cancelled as the operator of Home Farm nursing home.

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate last week said:  ‘The Care Inspectorate initiated court proceedings seeking the cancellation of the registration of the care provider at Home Farm care home at Portree in May. We did this following an inspection which raised serious concerns.

‘We have monitored the home carefully and we are satisfied that there has been considerable improvement in the quality of care experienced by residents and the issues that were putting them at serious risk have been addressed.

‘In light of this we have decided to no longer pursue the cancellation of the service’s registration through the courts.’

Ten residents who tested positive for Covid-19 died after the outbreak of the virus at the end of April.

On reports it was in talks with NHS Highland about transferring responsibility for the running of the home to the health board permanently, a spokesperson for HC-One said: ‘We have said consistently that we would improve standards and provide quality of life for residents at Home Farm.

‘We have committed considerable resources to this, and substantial improvements have been confirmed through regular inspections by the Care Inspectorate and other regulatory bodies.

‘We have worked constructively in a formal voluntary partnership with NHS Highland to make these improvements, and we are grateful for their support in doing so during this time.

‘It is of the utmost importance that these improvements are sustained so that residents at Home Farm receive the service they expect and deserve for the long term.

‘We are in advanced discussions with NHS Highland as we believe that a transfer of responsibility for Home Farm will be in the best and most sustainable interests of residents and colleagues at the home.’

Commenting on the developments, constituency MSP Kate Forbes told us: ‘The last few months have been unimaginably stressful for relatives and residents of Home Farm.

‘On top of the devastating Covid outbreak, there has been an investigation and then a court case about the standard of care at Home Farm.

‘During this time, I know that NHS Highland has been providing extensive support to ensure the standard of care improved. It is good to hear that the Care Inspectorate is now satisfied with the quality of care, and has been regularly monitoring the care home.

‘The two priorities now are to maintain that high level of care and to determine the future ownership and management of Home Farm. I know relatives and residents have been through the most testing of times and it is important that they are given assurance and clarity.’

And on the possibility NHS Highland could take over Home Farm, Ms Forbes added: ‘I will be speaking to NHS Highland about this latest development and what it means for the future of the home.’