Nicola Sturgeon has said there is “real concern” over the running of the Skye care home where seven residents have died from the coronavirus.
Ms Sturgeon pledged that measures would be taken to protect residents and carers as extra NHS support was deployed at the Home Farm care home in Portree.
At the first minister’s daily Covid-19 briefing, it emerged that NHS Highland was making up shortfalls in the staffing rota at the home owned by HC-One.
The health board is also providing nursing and clinical guidance as well as leadership at the home.
The dramatic action was taken after an unannounced inspection at Home Farm by the Care Inspectorate, the body that regulates homes, on Tuesday.
Asked about the situation at the home, Ms Sturgeon said: “You can take it from the steps that are being taken that should be an indication that there is real concern there and we want to make sure everything is being done to give reassurance that people would want.”
Ina Beaton, 103, from Balmaqueen, became the seventh Home Farm care home resident to become a victim of the coronavirus when she died on Monday. The total number of people who have been diagnosed with the virus at the care facility stands at 56.
Scottish deaths of positive Covid-19 cases pass 2,000
Across Scotland, the number of deaths after testing positive for the virus broke through the 2,000 barrier. Ms Sturgeon announced that a total of 2,007 people had died, under that particular measurement, up by 34 from the day before.
Appearing alongside Ms Sturgeon at the briefing, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman gave an update on the Home Farm care home situation, saying her thoughts were with residents, families and staff.
Ms Freeman said it was “impossible to say” how long the extra NHS support would last.
But she wanted to reassure residents, families and the Skye community that the NHS would stay “actively engaged” in caring for residents as long as necessary.
The NHS would remain involved until effective infection prevention and staffing ratios were in place, Ms Freeman said, adding that the situation was being taken “very seriously indeed”.
The Health Secretary was unable to give details of the numbers of NHS staff involved, but added that “significant” resources had been diverted to the home.
She also said it would be “inappropriate” to give details of the Care Inspectorate’s findings, because they had not yet been published.
“We are making up shortfalls in staffing rota, providing clear nursing and clinical guidance in a practical sense on the ground as well as ensuring there is, overall, the leadership there that is required to deliver all those results I have said about the quality of the residents’ experience and the care,” Ms Freeman said.
“That will be delivered from our NHS working alongside staff who already work in that care home, because we know that in that care home, as in many others, the staff who work there are very committed to doing the right thing. We have supplemented that and we will continue to do that as long as we think it is required.”
As we take further action to respond to the situation at Home Farm, we look forward to a deeper partnership with NHS Highland as the priority for everyone is making sure residents receive the very best care.”
Joint statement by HC-One and NHS Highland
HC-One has had to respond to concerns that the recruitment of staff from outside Skye may have influenced the spread of the of virus.
A statement from the owner said a new member of staff had relocated to the island at the end of March after two weeks of self-isolation because there was no testing at the time.
The company said it was a “long planned and carefully considered” decision to benefit the home, which had been struggling to recruit staff.
A joint statement has been issued from HC-One and NHS Highland in which the care home operator’s MD, John Kirk, said: “The situation at Home Farm has evolved rapidly over the past week and we have been incredibly grateful for the support that NHS Highland has provided to us during this time to ensure continuity of care to all residents at Home Farm.
“As we take further action to respond to the situation at Home Farm, we look forward to a deeper partnership with NHS Highland as the priority for everyone is making sure residents receive the very best care.”