Care home companies should be more transparent over their handling of Covid-19 outbreaks, victims' lawyers have said.

Ten deaths were recorded at HC-One's Skye's care home, despite the island itself being said to be an area otherwise largely unaffected by coronavirus.

There were also 22 "suspected or confirmed coronavirus" deaths at Fullarton Care Home, in Irvine, and there has now been 11 deaths at Redmill Care Home, in East Whitburn.

Fullarton Care Home

Now PBW Law, a firm which represents families of coronavirus victims at Skye's Home Farm Care Home, said the latest tragic events looked like "history repeating itself."

A Care Inspectorate report published in the May said it was 'concerned about the provider's lack of transparency' and that 'confidence in the provider's capacity to work with others to make improvements and protect people from risk was significantly reduced'.

PBW Law has now echoed calls from politicians for an urgent Care Inspectorate investigation into HC-One’s operating standards at Redmill, particularly as this home has not been inspected at all since September 2019.

Redmill Care Home, East Whitburn

Pamela Rodgers, Associate at PBW Law said: "It is deeply troubling that after the tragic deaths at the HC-One operated care home on the Isle of Skye that we are once again seeing such a distressing situation in West Lothian at a home run by the same operator.

"The standard of care on the Isle of Skye was so substandard that NHS Highland was forced to intervene and acquire the home with funding from the Scottish Government.

"Whilst families were advised that all necessary measures were being taken to protect their loved ones, in actual fact HC-One refused offers made by NHS Highland to step in and clean the home in an effort to improve "unsatisfactory" levels of cleanliness.

"The provider also received advice on April 27 and May 12 regarding the need to use a chlorine releasing disinfectant, a standard infection control measure during an outbreak, but inexplicably by May 15 the provider was still using ineffective cleaning products.

"Sadly, it appears history is repeating itself with this heartbreaking situation at Redmill Care Home.

"Recent statements from HC-One on this outbreak have shown greater concern for protecting the HC-One leadership team than for disclosing how residents are being cared for and shielded from this dreadful virus.

"Little detail has been forthcoming as to whether or how infection control measures are being implemented.

"The severity of the outbreak raises grave concerns with the number of deaths now surpassing those at Home Farm, the latter having been the subject of forced intervention by NHS Highland.

"Their public comments do little to reassure the families we represent – nor the families of thousands of HC-One residents across the UK – that this company is in control of the situation or have learned anything from what happened on the Isle of Skye."

The law firm also want the Care Inspectorate to investigate the significant outbreaks at Redmill and Edinburgh's Milford House care home, which is operated by Renaissance.

Ms Rodgers added: "At a time when families are being prevented from visiting loved ones, it is causing even more distress to encounter a basic lack of transparency over care standards from many operators.

"Where there are significant outbreaks, particularly when homes are operating a ‘no visitation’ policy or allow visits only through glass barriers or windows, questions must be asked regarding whether or not failings in infection control measures are responsible in the absence of outbreaks of this severity in many other care homes in Scotland."

A spokesperson for HC-One said: "We have engaged openly and regularly with the Care Inspectorate, NHS, Local Authorities, local politicians and families connected to all our homes throughout the past seven months of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We also know how detailed and robust our current COVID-19 protection plans are, and how tirelessly Colleagues at every level of the organisation are working to protect our homes and our Residents during this pandemic. 

"We have long said that the only way to keep care homes safe is to reduce the rate of infection in the communities they serve.

"Redmill, like many of our homes, is located in an area with one of the highest rates of community infection which makes our work, and that of our front-line teams, far harder.

"If PBW Law would like to discuss the work we're doing, we suggest they contact us directly rather than through the media."