Legal threat over HC-One care home Covid deaths

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image source, Mandie Harris
image captionColin Harris was one of 10 residents who died at Home Farm in Skye

The UK's largest care home operator is facing potential legal action over the deaths of residents from Covid-19.

HC-One runs more than 300 homes, including Home Farm in Skye where 10 residents died amid a virus outbreak.

Law firm Leigh Day is investigating potential legal action on behalf of families in Scotland and England.

It comes after allegations that "systemic failings" at care homes may have led to Covid-19 deaths that could have been avoided.

Separately, Glasgow law firm PBW Law is representing the families of three residents of Home Farm who died. The firm said it was taking legal action against HC-One and has also written to Scotland's Lord Advocate seeking a fatal accident inquiry.

HC-One said it understood fully the effect of the "unprecedented pandemic on our residents, their relatives and our colleagues who have been caring for them".

image captionA total of 10 residents died at Home Farm care home on Skye following a virus outbreak

The company added: "We have utmost sympathy for the distress and loss that has been felt by so many in recent months."

The families involved include those of an 80-year-old who died in April when a Covid-19 outbreak at a home in Nottingham was believed to have led to the deaths of a number of residents.

Also, relatives of Colin Harris, who was among the 10 residents who died at Home Farm in Portree. A total of 30 residents and 29 staff tested positive for Covid-19 during the outbreak at the home.

Leigh Day said Mr Harris' widow Mandie had demanded to know what HC-One knew of the risks to residents from the Covid-19 virus and what it did to protect residents.

Also, they want to know whether alleged failings across the HC-One network of care homes, including the movement of workers between homes and accepting admissions direct from hospital, led to the unnecessary deaths of residents.

PBW Law is representing Skye councillor John Gordon and his sister Mary Maccaskill. Their father John Angus Gordon was 83 when he died at Home Farm.

The law firm is also representing Norma Morrison, whose mother Margaret Morrison also died at the care home.

image source, Gordon family
image captionJohn Angus Gordon's family have taken legal action against Home Farm

Earlier this year the health care watchdog, the Care Inspectorate, took legal action to have HC-One removed as the main care provider to residents at Home Farm following an unannounced inspection of the home that raised "serious concerns" about the quality of care.

The action was dropped last month following further inspections and improvements in care.

The Care Inspectorate's reports said inspectors were told most staff at Home Farm were kind and helpful, but there were concerns some people were not being treated with respect.

Lost weight

Doors were left open while residents received personal care, food was left round the mouths of others after eating and one person who was upset was described as "attention seeking".

Inspectors were also told some people did not receive the right support to eat and drink well.

During the Covid-19 outbreak the monitoring of some residents' weight was stopped and a number of people lost weight.

Some residents were also reported to have been lying in urine and faeces, including on occasions when the urine and faeces had dried, posing health risks, according to the inspection reports.

Local health board, NHS Highland, is now in the process of taking over Home Farm. It has received £900,000 from the Scottish government to cover the total cost of buying the home.

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