Grant says further delay in court case proceedings against owners of coronavirus-hit Home Farm Care Home on Skye is disappointing but the welfare of the residents “has to be at the forefront”

Responding to this morning’s decision by Inverness Sheriff Court to agree to a joint motion for a continuation of another two weeks in the proceedings against HC-One care home firm which runs the Home Farm Care Home on Skye, Highlands & Islands Labour Rhoda Grant said: ” I know this is a difficult and distressing time for residents, their loved ones and staff at the home. And it is disappointing that this court case continues to rumble on, but the welfare of the residents must be at the forefront.

Regulators are attempting to seize control of a care home which was at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak that has led to 10 deaths and dozens of coronavirus cases on the island.

The Care Inspectorate, which regulates the industry asked a sheriff to strip the care home’s owners, HC-One, of its licence to operate after finding serious shortcomings in its management.

Earlier this week, NHS Highland admitted five hospital patients were discharged to Home Farm Care Home in March before ministers introduced routine testing.

The disclosure was made following questions from Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant.

In a briefing with NHS chiefs, she was told that the transfer happened soon after the Portree facility had sanctions lifted for care failures which had prevented new admissions.

She was told the transfer happened following a risk assessment which found the care home’s staffing levels had improved to an adequate standard.

Health bosses explained they were satisfied that the problem had been significantly addressed so transfers took place for five people to Home Farm. But they said that as soon as there was a suspected case of Covid-19 in Home Farm, the suspension of transfers was reinstated and that remains in place. 

She was also told the transfers took place in March and an updated policy on testing transfers only came out in late April.

Rhoda said: “I am concerned that a care home that had previously been closed to new admissions had this status changed in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.  At a time when more checks and balances should have been put in place to protect vulnerable people it would appear these had been reduced and people were discharged, untested, to this care home.”