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Skye MSP Kate Forbes has welcomed confirmation from Scotland’s Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, that NHS Highland is to buy and run the Home Farm care home in Portree.
Operated by HC-One, Home Farm had been under NHS supervision since May, after the facility suffered a severe outbreak of Covid-19 in which 10 residents of the home died as a result.
While acknowledging that the past few months have been ‘distressing for every relative and friend of the residents of Home Farm’, Ms Forbes added that the intervention from NHS Highland – coupled with financial support from the Scottish Government – guaranteed the long-term future of the home.
Ms Forbes told us: ‘The past few months have been distressing for every relative and friend of the residents of Home Farm. I understand that the Care Inspectorate reports demonstrate why they were right to take swift, robust, legal action against the independent owners of Home Farm, HC-One.
‘Since that point, NHS Highland has effectively been running the home in terms of management, staff and support and the standard of care has rapidly and significantly increased.
‘I am delighted that NHS Highland will be taking over the care home formally with financial support from the Scottish Government.
‘I have said from the very beginning that Home Farm must continue to offer care in Skye over the long term. This announcement allows for that to happen.
‘I know that nothing will compensate for the distress, grief and agonies of the last few months for those that have lost loved ones or been worried about the health of their friends and family, but I hope this announcement provides the reassurance that care home residents in Skye will receive the highest standard of care in Portree.’
Her SNP colleague, Ian Blackford MP, added: ”This is the best outcome for residents, ensuring that they receive the best care possible with an experienced and efficient management structure in place.
‘I know that it has been a difficult period for residents and their families, and I hope that now the future of the home as a first-class care provider has been secured, it gives some peace of mind to those involved.’
Home Farm is to be bought by the health board with £900,000 of Scottish Government money and staff previously employed by HC-One will have their contracts transferred to the NHS with ‘improved terms and conditions,’ according to Ms Freeman.
In its report, published this week, the Care Inspectorate said its inspectors found a number of unsatisfactory findings during unannounced visits to Home Farm in May.
They were told that most staff were kind and helpful but there were concerns that some people were not treated with respect, including instances where some residents were said to have been left lying in urine and faeces.
Ms Freeman commented: ‘Safeguarding the wellbeing of the current residents at Home Farm in Portree has been a priority for the Scottish Government and I am pleased that NHS Highland has negotiated to purchase this care home.
‘Everyone in Scotland has the right to safe, compassionate care which meets their needs and respects their rights and it is good that improvements have been made in the quality of care offered at the care home with support from the health board, the Care Inspectorate and other partners. This includes practices related to infection prevention and control, use of PPE, staff training, cleaning of premises and the maintenance of adequate staffing levels.
‘The future ownership of this home by NHS Highland also provides an assurance for people on Skye that provision of residential nursing care in their community will continue.’
Paul Hawkins, NHS Highland Chief Executive, said: ‘We have worked constructively with HC-One over the last number of weeks to improve the standards of care within the home, particularly in relation to managing infection control in a Covid-19 environment.
‘Securing the future of the home under the Highland Health and Social Care Partnership within the NHS will enable us to ensure these standards are maintained.’