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Exposed: 'Atrocious' care home where residents had to share underwear

By Lisa Smyth

Published 28/12/2015

Kingsway Private Nursing Home in Dunmurry has been told it must meet basic standards of care
Kingsway Private Nursing Home in Dunmurry has been told it must meet basic standards of care

Residents at a nursing home for elderly and terminally ill people have been sharing underwear, according to an official watchdog.

The discovery was made by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) during a series of inspections of Kingsway Private Nursing Home in Dunmurry.

During the past 12 months, the RQIA also discovered:

  • Residents left to sit in soiled underwear after waiting to be taken to the toilet;
  • Meals left in front of residents with no one available to help them eat the food;
  • Residents sitting for eight hours in a chair without being moved;
  • One patient injured by a badly fitted piece of equipment;
  • Staff reporting that they didn't have enough time to bring residents drinks;
  • Patients waiting an hour for a response after calling for help.

Kieran McCarthy from the Stormont Health Committee said: "This is absolutely atrocious. It is disgusting, but it shows the important role of the RQIA, which has uncovered what is going on.

"Some of the most vulnerable members of our society live in care homes, so to hear that people in this home are being exposed to failings like this is very upsetting."

A failure to comply notice was issued to management of the home on December 15.

The document listed a series of concerns, including: "The lack of attention to patients' choice, privacy and dignity was concerning, for example the practice of administering medicines covertly; the manner in which personal care was being delivered; communal use of underwear and tights; and staff attitude described as patronising and uncaring."

The RQIA has given management at Kingsway, which is owned by Care Circle, until February 11 to meet the basic standards of care laid out by law.

Inspectors from the watchdog carried out a number of examinations at the home this year.

After an assessment in April, the organisation said: "Concerns and areas for improvement were identified and are required to be addressed to ensure that care in the home is safe, effective and compassionate."

It found: "Patients reported that they were waiting for up to an hour for buzzers to be answered and confirmed that they had been incontinent in the meantime.

"Patients were of the opinion that there were not enough staff, so they tended to rush in and out and there were interruptions to the care being provided as care staff were called away to help someone else. Others stated that they had to wait to be bathed and fed."

The report continued: "One staff member commented that they were struggling to meet the basic needs of the patients, particularly in regards to continence care and fluid intake. Another stated that the continence care 'was the best they could provide under the circumstances'.

"All care assistants were of the opinion that they were unable to provide the standard of care they would like to give."

It also said: "Some staff also reported having insufficient time to offer fluids to dependent patients."

A resident told the inspectors: "Some carers are good, but others are not. I have to wait for the buzzer. I waited for an hour and had to sit in my own mess."

Another added: "At times I have not been satisfied with the level of privacy and dignity and respect."

Other residents reported having to ensure they received the correct medication. And relatives told the inspectors that the home was always short-staffed and that more and more workers were leaving because of stress.

A subsequent inspection in October found the home had failed to address concerns raised in April, including ensuring residents were given adequate drinks.

Inspectors also found soiled laundry on bedroom floors, staff not wearing gloves and aprons to handle soiled laundry, tubs of creams being shared between patients, toothbrushes needed to be cleaned and infection control practices not in place.

The report said: "There was also a lack of attention to patients' dignity by [not] ensuring they were assisted to keep clean during and after their meal."

A Care Circle spokesman 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."

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