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Highland Council seeks funding assurances over coronavirus-hit Home Farm care home on Skye


By Hector MacKenzie

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Home Farm care home in Portree.
Home Farm care home in Portree.

MEMBERS of Highland Council have unanimously agreed a motion by Skye ward members to seek assurances that all revenue funding regarding the purchase of Home Farm will be met by the Scottish Government.

Ten residents died after an outbreak of Covid-19 at the care home in April infected 30 out of 34 residents and 29 staff.

NHS Highland has taken over the site.

“The report from the care inspectorate was a hard read and we welcome the NHS taking on the running of Home Farm, however the detail of the financial impacts of the purchase are as yet unclear. To expect councils who struggle continually with a lack of finance, it seems unfair, unrealistic and extra burden on over stretched council resources and could set a precedence for the Council and NHS to pick up the costs of other care homes across the Highlands.” - Cllr John Gordon

The motion states: “The Highland Council welcomes developments between HC-One and NHSH regarding the transfer of ownership to NHSH and for them to deliver care.

"Given the exceptional nature of the situation of the costs involved the Scottish Government have agreed to provide capital funding to NHSH for the purchase of Home Farm. These exceptional costs are also prevailing with the revenue costs and even more so as they will be re-occurring at an estimated £1.2m per annum, which Highland Council has not budgeted for.

“The impact of Covid-19 will have an impact on council budgets that are already overstretched and the Council agrees to write to the Scottish Government asking for an assurance that all revenue funding regarding Home Farm would be met by the Scottish Government”.

Chair of the Eilean a' Cheò committee, Cllr John Gordon said: “The last few months have not been easy for our island especially for those of us who lost loved ones during the Covid-19 outbreak at Home Farm. It was made more difficult as information was not readily available for families, staff and community leaders at the time.

“I would like to thank councillors across the chamber for their care and support for ward 10 during the last few months - their input, help and support did not go unnoticed by the people of Skye and Raasay as Highland stood together thorough this pandemic.

“Home Farm care home is an important facility on our island, and has had strong links with the local community. The staff are part of the wider community and have been greatly affected in many ways.

“Our island was devastated with the news that Home Farm had one of the highest cluster of positive cases of Covid-19 in Scotland and sadly within 12 days of this news breaking, Home Farm had lost 10 residents to this virus, each person loved and mourned by their families and valued by their communities.”

He added: “The report from the care inspectorate was a hard read and we welcome the NHS taking on the running of Home Farm, however the detail of the financial impacts of the purchase are as yet unclear. To expect councils who struggle continually with a lack of finance, it seems unfair, unrealistic and extra burden on over stretched council resources and could set a precedence for the Council and NHS to pick up the costs of other care homes across the Highlands.”

Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson said: “I want to congratulate the heroic efforts of staff involved in turning around a significant improvement in the care home. The Scottish Government has agreed to fund revenue costs for the first year, but funding for future years is indeed uncertain. We cannot be in a position of having to cut services elsewhere in social care and we need a sustainable solution or the longer term.”

Related: MSP welcomes new arrangement for Home Farm

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