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Councillor calls for more public information on Skye Covid-19 coronavirus care home crisis


By Louise Glen

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

A Highland councillor wants the community to be given more information after a Skye care home was taken into special measures following a mass outbreak of Covid-19.

Councillor John Gordon said family members and island residents are having to rely on the media for information about the ongoing situation at Home Farm Care Home in Portree, rather than from he home itself or NHS Highland.

Mr Gordon's 83-year-old father, John Angus Gordon, died from Covid-19 at the home on May 5.

His was one of 10 deaths from the condition so far recorded at the home.

Mr Gordon said: "When the care home owners had its registration revoked last week we didn't hear about it from anyone official.

"Many people heard about it on the news or online.

"One resident in the home even saw it on the news. It must have been very distressing for him to read about it.

"When residents' families phoned the care home, many staff were unaware of what was happening and they were unable to give information to them.

"The people who live in the home are not just a number or a statistic, they are good people who have lived life well.

"It is a very worrying time for everyone and communication is important, so that people in the community – including relatives of residents – can understand what is going on."

He continued: "For many people, if MP Ian Blackford had not released the numbers of people who had contracted coronavirus then we would not have known the extent of the difficulties that the home was facing.

"It is vitally important that people are aware of the situation. This is the highest cluster of Covid-19 in a care home in Scotland.

"The distress this has caused has been devastating."

Mr Gordon said he and the community are still standing by the staff in the home who, he says, should be applauded for the hard work they are doing in very difficult situation.

He continued: "I don't understand why NHS Highland cannot be communicating with island councillors and families. Lack of information leads to speculation and rumours.

"I speak as someone who is grieving – we would rejoice to hear of patients that are recovering and we would mourn with the families who have lost someone.

"There has been a wall of silence, and the most hurtful thing is that families are not being informed about what is going on. Every community has the right to be informed."

A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: "A meeting was held between NHS Highland and the chief executive of Highland Council with local administration Skye councillors on Friday.

"It was agreed that there would now be daily meetings between NHS Highland and Highland Council officials and the chief executive would provide a confidential daily update to the local members.

"NHS Highland has also agreed to provide news releases in advance of issue to the council.

"These arrangements should help to improve communications and reduce levels of anxiety."

Related articles: Care home with outbreak of coronavirus reports 10th death

Care Inspectorate begins legal action that could see operator of coronavirus hit care home lose its registration

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