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Ex-boss of care home at centre of neglect probe previously in charge of similar failing facility

Exclusive by Lisa Smyth

Published 02/01/2016

Cherry Tree House nursing home in Carrickfergus
Cherry Tree House nursing home in Carrickfergus

The former manager of a nursing home accused of neglecting its residents had been criticised for her management of another failing care home, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Maria Gillespie was manager at Cherry Tree House in Carrickfergus for a period during 2013.

She took part in a serious concerns meeting with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in May of that year to discuss repeated failures to meet basic standards of care.

It has now emerged that in September she became the registered manager of Kingsway Private Nursing Home in Dunmurry, which was recently accused of failing to provide safe and dignified care to its residents.

While she no longer holds the post, she is still the registered manager of the facility, according to the RQIA's website and the care home's website.

A spokesman for Care Circle, which owns Kingsway, did not wish to comment on the matter but re-issued an earlier statement on the RQIA inspections.

It said: "A recent inspection carried out at Kingsway Private Nursing Home by the RQIA identified some areas that required attention. Care Circle has made progress and further actions are currently receiving attention."

The Belfast Telegraph can reveal the RQIA raised concerns over Ms Gillespie's management of Kingsway nursing home, which looks after old and terminally-ill people, after an inspection in October last year.

Despite points made during a number of inspections, the RQIA never stopped Ms Gillespie from holding a management post in a Northern Ireland care home, and there are no restrictions on her license to practise as a nurse by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

According to the RQIA, Ms Gillespie, a registered mental health nurse, was appointed manager of the facility on September 7, 2015.

The health watchdog subsequently carried out an unannounced inspection of the home on October 5 to establish whether conditions had improved following an earlier inspection in April - before Ms Gillespie took up her post.

However, during the October inspection, they found that staff morale was low.

The RQIA officers also discovered while talking to Ms Gillespie that she was not fully aware of the previous issues raised about the care being delivered at the home.

The October inspection of Kingsway also found:

  • Some residents complained they had to monitor staff to ensure they got the correct medication;
  • Tubs of cream were being shared between patients;
  • Dirty toothbrushes;
  • No infection prevention or control audits being carried out;
  • A resident sustained a leg injury as a result of an ill-fitting piece of equipment.

A report written after the unannounced visit read: "There was also a lack of attention to patients' dignity by ensuring they were assisted to keep clean during and after their meal.

"Fire doors were found to be wedged open. Medicines trolleys were observed to be left with the keys still in the lock and with medications left unattended on the top of trolleys. This presented a potential risk to the health and welfare of patients."

A follow-up inspection on December 7 last year showed that "insufficient progress in addressing the deficits identified at the previous inspections" had been made. The watchdog also raised concerns about a "lack of attention to patients' choice, privacy and dignity".

Ms Gillespie was appointed manager at Cherry Tree in March 2013. An unannounced inspection of the facility by the RQIA on April 16 of that year uncovered a number of concerns, particularly in relation to the treatment of wounds and pressure ulcers.

On top of that, inspectors found that a dressing applied to a patient's arm on April 7 was still in place on the day of the inspection.

Concerns were also raised about the cleaning of the room of a patient who had been diagnosed with a contagious infection.

As a result of the issues raised after the inspection, a serious concerns meeting was held in the RQIA offices on May 2, 2013, which Ms Gillespie attended.

In November 2013, the then Health Minister ordered an independent review of Cherry Tree nursing home over claims of "appalling" conditions at the facility.

Belfast Telegraph

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