Isle of Skye care home hit by 10 coronavirus deaths could lose licence in three weeks

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

One of the UK's biggest care home companies could be the first to be stripped of its licence.

HC-One has been accused of significant failings at one of its homes on the Isle of Skye after 10 residents died from Covid-19.

It comes as 30 out of 34 residents at Home Farm care home have tested positive for coronavirus as well as more than half the staff.

Last week a surprise visit from the care inspectorate noted a litany of failings.

Now the care provider, HC-One, has been given another three weeks to fix the problems or they could lose their licence for Home Farm.

The son of care resident John Gordon, who was among the first to die at Home Farm, is now finding out questions are being asked about the company that ran his father's care home.

John Gordon Jr said: "We find the staff exceptional, whether that be the nurses or the carers, and we had no inclination that there was this serious concern from the Care Commission up until very recently."

John Gordon Jr, whose dad lived in the care home, said his family were not aware of the concerns. Credit: ITV News

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the coronavirus pandemic has put private care homes under the spotlight.

She said: "I do think questions are being raised now about the appropriateness and fitness of the model long-term and I'm sure these are issues we will come back to in due-course as a parliament and indeed as a society."

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman also spoke about the Home Farm care home in Portree on the Isle of Skye during the daily briefing.

She said the Care Inspectorate had carried out an unannounced inspection of the home on Tuesday.

Following the visit, NHS Highland had agreed with owners HC-One to "provide enhanced assistance by deploying additional NHS resources, including social care management, nursing leadership and direct care".

Ms Freeman said: "This additional support has come into effect immediately with the aim of improving and sustaining the right quality of care for the residents."

She added: "I and the Scottish Government strongly support action to ensure that all care homes provide a safe home for their residents."

10 residents at the Home Farm care home have died from Covid-19. Credit: ITV News

In a statement, HC-One said they’re pleased with the court decision which recognises the progress they’ve made at home farm.

But failings had been identified here before - about poor staffing and infection control.

ITV News has also learned about breaches of Scottish government guidelines moving care staff from home to home here and across Scotland without testing - which the representative body says is as much a failing of government.

Dr Donald Macaskill from Scottish Care told ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith: "That's not always been possible and until testing is ramped up... It does mean that individuals hadn't been able to be tested before they've worked on different sites."

Donald Macaskill from Scottish Care, said care workers have moved between homes without being tested. Credit: ITV News

ITV News has also learned about new residents in Home Farm who had been sent straight from hospital.

When NHS Highland chief officer David Park was asked about whether they new care residents had been discharged from hospital without being tested, he said: "There was no government policy that covered discharge policy at that time, when these patients were transferred that was in March, since then the policy has been updated.

The Union For Carers said they tried to flag up problems over sick pay, in a letter to the Scottish government back in March.

GMB Scotland's Gary Smith said: "If they get tested positive for coronavirus and many of them will show no symptoms before getting tested positive, they get sent home and they will only be on Statutory Sick Pay and of course workers are terrified of getting tested."

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