Granddaughter talks about Dunmurry care home probe

Julieann McNally in the Balmoral Hotel during a public meeting on Dunmurry Manor Julieann McNally in the Balmoral Hotel during a public meeting on Dunmurry Manor
By Brónach Ní Thuama

THE granddaughter of a former resident of Dunmurry Manor said she “welcomes” the Commissioner for Older People’s investigation into the care home.

Following family members and former employees raising serious concerns about the standards of care and safety of residents living with dementia in Dunmurry Manor Care Home, the Commissioner for Older People this week announced a formal investigation.

Commissioner Eddie Lynch said: “Family members have made complaints to me about the care that their relatives received in Dunmurry Manor. I have also heard from former employees that the care and protection of older people in the home was below acceptable standards and in some cases, caused harm to frail older people.

“I am deeply concerned about allegations of serious failures of care at Dunmurry Manor and this has led me to carry out a full investigation under my legal powers. Health authorities have been monitoring this care home and raising concerns since it opened in 2014.  More than two years later older people are living in a home that is failing to comply with minimum standards of care.

“My investigation will examine the care, treatment and experience of older people living in Dunmurry Manor Care Home from the period prior to the home’s opening in 2014 until the present day. It will also include an examination of the actions of all those responsible for the commissioning, provision, monitoring and regulation of the care services provided at the care home during this time.”

The Commissioner continued: “I am aware of some excellent care in nursing homes across Northern Ireland and I don’t want to cause unnecessary alarm to older people and their families. However, when I detect that there are areas of serious concern in terms of care for older people, I must act immediately and ensure that older people are protected from harm.”

West Belfast woman Julieann McNally, whose family have taken a case against the care home regarding the mistreatment of their grandmother, 89-year-old Annie McCourt, said: “While we welcome the Commissioner’s comments on Dunmurry Manor there are still a lot of questions left to be answered.

“We as a family now hope that we can get some answers to questions we have been asking since June of last year when our granny had her accident. We are glad to see that the Commissioner has exercised his powers, we would ask that he looks into the legislation of Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority as we feel it is not fit for purpose. We also believe that the various health trusts should look into their relationships with care homes so other families don’t have to go through we what we have.”

Since opening in 2014, the care home has received a number of notifications from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and the Health and Social Care Trusts about inadequate standards of care.

At the end of January 2017 compliance had still not been achieved and the home is now formally closed to new admissions. In addition, further conditions for its ongoing operation have been applied.

The investigation is expected to take three to four months to complete.

To ensure that it is as thorough and independent as possible, expert advisors in nursing care, safeguarding and human rights and the commissioning, regulation and inspection of care have been appointed.  This expert panel will provide scrutiny, advice and guidance throughout the investigation. The Comm-issioner will not make comment during the investigation and a report into the findings with recommendations is expected to be released in June.

The Commissioner would like to hear from past and present residents, family members, volunteers and staff of Dunmurry Manor during the investigation.

You’re asked to contact 028 9089 0892 or email info@copni.org if you would like to share any experience of the care home.

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