Claims vulnerable adults have been abused at a residential care home are being investigated by police and health chiefs.
A number of staff have now been suspended at Ralph’s Close, at the back of the Gransha Hospital site in the Waterside area of Londonderry.
An urgent appeal for information has been issued by the Western Health and Social Care Trust after a number of allegations concerning the home were made anonymously.
At a Press conference in the city on Thursday night, Western Trust director of adult mental health Trevor Millar said that sensitivities surrounding the investigation meant he could not give details on the nature of the alleged abuse.
He did, however, state that the matter was being treated seriously and that a “robust investigation” was now under way into what he termed “allegations of mistreatment”.
Mr Millar said the facility provided residential accommodation and support for adults with learning disabilities such as autism, difficulties in interpreting information or communicating, or those with challenging behaviours.
Residents range in age from 18 upwards and are housed in two sets of two single storey buildings attached to a central core.
Each single-sex house contains four residents and has only been operating for around 18 months.
Most of the men and women living in Ralph’s Close were transferred there from long stay disability wards at Stradreagh Hospital in Gransha, and require life-long care.
It’s believed the appeal for information has been made because many of the patients cannot speak for themselves.
Mr Millar said: “The trust has been keeping the families fully informed and all relevant statutory agencies.
“A number of staff have been suspended as a precautionary measure in line with adult safeguarding policy.
“We treat any allegation very seriously and we will always carry out a robust investigation.
“We are appealing now for anyone with information to bring it forward.”
He also said that all suspended staff have been replaced with qualified healthcare professionals.
Aidan Gordon, assistant director of adult safeguarding with the trust, stressed that the suspensions of certain members of staff was a precautionary measure.
A spokesman for the PSNI confirmed last night: “An investigation into these allegations is currently ongoing. There are no further details at this time.”
Police are appealing to anyone who has information to contact detectives at Strand Road on 0845 600 8000. The trust has advised that its Adult Safeguarding Service can be contacted on 028 7161 1366 with an out of hours service at 028 71345171.