Belfast Telegraph

Union battles Ashbrooke care home closure as 50 staff face jobs axe

By Eamon Sweeney

The decision to shut down a Co Fermanagh care home is being challenged by a trade union representing 50 staff at the facility who are now facing unemployment.

Controversy has surrounded Ashbrooke Care Centre in Enniskillen in recent weeks after a health watchdog conducted a snap inspection and ordered its closure after it was deemed to pose "a serious risk to life, health and the wellbeing of residents".

It was the first time since the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) was founded in 2005 that it had closed a care home at such short notice.

The challenge to the decision by the GMB union comes after the final resident of the unit was rehomed by the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

The trust had taken temporary charge in an arrangement with owners Runwood Homes after publication of the RQIA report.

Following the departure of the last resident from Ashbrooke, the trust has now relinquished its involvement.

However, GMB official Alan Perry challenged the RQIA to publish in full the findings of its report into Ashbrooke.

"The closure of Ashbrooke marks a sad day, not only for the residents who through no fault of their own have had to move homes, but for the staff who now face the prospect of being made redundant," he said.

RQIA inspectors acted swiftly after finding that equipment was dirty, patients were unwashed, and records revealed that some residents had suffered weight loss.

The inspectorate also said that the home had a strong smell of faeces and urine.

After Runwood Homes last week announced its intention to challenge the decision to shut the unit, RQIA chief Olive Macleod reiterated that the home would be closed when the final resident had left.

Mr Perry added: "Since this news broke, the RQIA have made allegations, which to date, have not been proven.

"There was an inspection in May which raised no real issues, but yet three months later the home is being forced to close.

"Having met with senior management, they have advised the GMB that they are in the process of appealing the decision to close the home.

"But, as with all legal cases, no time frame can be put on it being heard, which doesn't help the 50 employees who will more than likely be made redundant.

"The RQIA have a number of questions that need to be answered, yet are hiding behind a wall of silence.

"This is not acceptable."

In response, the RQIA said: "Yesterday the Western Health and Social Care Trust advised RQIA that the final resident has moved to suitable alternative accommodation, and as a result, this home is now closed.

"A report of RQIA's finding will be published in line with our normal inspection procedures."

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