The family of a man who died during a Covid-19 outbreak at a care home on Skye is seeking legal action.
Colin Harris was one of ten residents at Home Farm in Portree who died during a coronavirus outbreak at the home, which saw a total of 30 residents and 29 staff testing positive for the virus.
His widow Mandie is demanding to know what care home operator HC-One knew of the risks to the residents from the virus and what it did to protect them.
The family also wants answers over the movement of workers between homes and accepting admissions directly from hospital.
Law firm Leigh Day is investigating potential legal action on behalf of families in Scotland and England against HC-One over allegations that “systemic failings” led to “hundreds if not thousands of avoidable Covid-19 deaths”.
Following an unannounced inspection on May 12 and 13, the Care Inspectorate, which is responsible for monitoring care homes in Scotland, found that Home Farm Care Home was ‘unsatisfactory’ on all five areas it reviewed.
The Care Inspectorate wrote of the care home: “At the start of the outbreak the provider was resistant to working effectively with NHS Highland and did not make the most of the support that was available despite serious concerns about the quality of people’s care, the environment, staffing and leadership.
“For example, initial offers to assist with cleaning the care home and disinfecting it with a recommended cleaning product were refused. This placed people at unnecessary risk.”
Earlier this month it was announced the care home would be taken over by NHS Highland.
Richard Meeran, a partner at Leigh Day who is representing the families, said: “We have heard so much about what has been done by the Government and by these private companies to protect residents of these care homes, yet the figures are still difficult to find and it is our belief that the true scale of deaths from Covid-19 in privately run care homes in England and Scotland is far worse than we can imagine at this stage.
“With the amount that they are charging for local authority funded residents and the extortionate rents they ask families to pay privately, rising each year way above inflation, they must account for the quality of the care they provide and whether consideration of profit comes before the safety of their residents and staff.”
A spokesperson for HC-One said: “HC One is only aware of this proposed action through Leigh Day’s media statement.
“The company understands fully the effect of this unprecedented pandemic on our residents, their relatives and our colleagues who have been caring for them. We have utmost sympathy for the distress and loss that has been felt by so many in recent months.
“As a responsible provider, which pays all UK taxes due and works constructively with regulatory and enforcement agencies, any claims will be referred to our Insurers. Therefore, it is not appropriate to make further public comment at this time.”