MSP asks questions about tragic outbreak of Covid-19 at Skye’s Home Farm Care Home

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has asked the Health Minister Jeane Freeman about the tragic outbreak of Covid-19 at Home Farm Care Home on Skye.

During Topical Questions today she said:

“I am deeply distressed for the residents and staff at Home Farm Care Home.

“A constituent with a relative in the home has told me she raised concerns with senior management of the company about its handling of the pandemic and the lack of PPE for staff. She was also concerned staff were being taken in from other care homes without a period of isolation.

“I have written to the Cabinet Secretary and put down a written question asking on behalf of another constituent for a protocol for Care Homes in this Pandemic and have had no response.

“When will there be a protocol for Care Homes to prevent tragedies such as this one in Skye?”

Jeane Freeman replied: “The guidance to care homes is clear and that guidance is that residents should be looked after in their own rooms, there should be no communal socialising or meal times, that visits should be stopped and there should be no transfer of staff from one care home to another because all of this is about breaking the transmission route. That I think is a protocol of type (…) but I would like to point out, however, that many of the issues that members are raising are issues where private care home providers where the majority of the outbreaks are, have not, in some instances, appeared to follow the guidance that we require them to follow and that is why as government we are now taking a more direct intervention route in those cases.”

Rhoda raised her question after a relative of a Home Farm Care Home resident contacted her for support saying she had raised concerns weeks ago with HC-One which owns the care home about staff not wearing PPE.

The relative also claimed that she was aware HC-One was moving its own staff between its care homes after Home Farm went into lockdown on March 12 without adhering to seven-day self-isolation rules.

She contacted Rhoda last night saying she was shocked and distressed to see how her relative’s health had deteriorated in the last few days since being diagnosed with Covid-19 in the care home.

The woman, who does not want to be named, told Mrs Grant: “The sheer volume of this explosion at Home Farm has knocked everybody for six. Hopefully my husband is going to pull through this. But that doesn’t change my stance that somebody is responsible for letting that virus into the home. I am not condemning the care home staff in any way though because I don’t believe they are to blame. They have provided wonderful care to my husband over the years.”

Speaking afterwards, Rhoda said she would be raising this issue further with the Scottish Government as well as the owner of the care home HC-One, The Care Inspectorate and NHS Highland.

She said: “This is terrible. It’s shocking. This woman, who until lockdown was visiting her husband six days a week, has managed to see him yesterday on webcam for the first time in a week and the sight of him lying in bed desperately ill miles away from her is something no-one should ever have to see. We need to find out why the virus has spread so quickly to so many in this care home and why earlier mass testing was not carried out. There are urgent questions that need to be answered.”