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Coronavirus: Belfast Trust review into Clifton Nursing Home where nine residents have died

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Clifton Nursing Home in north Belfast

Clifton Nursing Home in north Belfast

PA

Clifton Nursing Home in north Belfast

The Belfast Trust is initiating a review into Clifton Nursing Home, it has been confirmed.

It's thought the review will be independently chaired and will focus the care of residents and decisions made by management, according to the BBC's Nolan programme

The move comes after it emerged that nine residents at the home, which is run by Runwood Homes, have died from Covid-19.

Efforts are underway to appoint a new company to run the facility after Runwood Homes failed to improve infection control measures first identified last April.

According to a report from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), Runwood Homes has been warned twice of failing to meet standards in infection control after inspections as far back as January 2019.

A spokesperson for Runwood said: "Clifton Nursing Home welcomes a review to identify learning for all agencies in the management of the pandemic response.

"Representatives from Clifton Nursing Home have confirmed with Belfast Trust that this would be a welcomed review and will cooperate fully to see best practice identified."

Speaking to the BBC's Nolan programme, interim chief executive of the RQIA Dermot Parsons said the agency was given assurances from Runwood that new measures were being put in place at the home.

He said before an inspection in March this year, the RQIA had been given assurances from the manager of the home and regional compliance staff at Runwood Homes, as well as a quality improvement plan and an audit regime that had been put in place.

Runwood Homes installed a new manager at the home at the start of 2019, he said.

"We had a degree of confidence from the provider that bringing in the new manager would have an impact on performance in the home and see that the necessary changes were made.

"By the time we get to early 2020, that does not seem adequate, and we're seeking assurance from Runwood that the necessary changes will be made.

"The responsibility to make improvements in the home sits with the provider and it's when we're seeing those assurances significantly not delivered, it becomes clear to us that the management arrangement in and around the home is not delivering the necessary improvement," Mr Parsons said.

"That's why we lost confidence in the provider to be able to deliver the service and we moved to take enforcement in the last month."

Efforts are thought to be underway to appoint a new company to run Clifton after Runwood Homes failed to improve infection control measures first identified last April and raised over a number of subsequent inspections.

It was hoped this meant residents would not have to move to new accommodation during the pandemic.

Mr Parsons said the RQIA seeks to work with providers and engage with them around required changes rather than moving to a "punitive enforcement position".

"[That] would always be the last port of call when it is clear that is not going to happen," he said.

"In the middle of a pandemic we had detailed and thorough discussions with them on the phone and were given very specific assurances about the practice that was being followed," he said, adding that RQIA staff would be reluctant to visit care homes and put residents at risk during a pandemic.

"We appeared to be getting sound reassurances from a provider that they are in fact complying with their legal duty, which is why when we received information from the Trust and followed it up with an inspection this month, that is why we have taken enforcement action," he said.

"I think we do need to be clear that the level of Covid-19 infection in residential or nursing homes in northern Ireland is significantly lower than it is in the other UK nations."

A spokesperson for the Belfast Trust said they wish to assure the families of residents that the Trust is working closely with Clifton Nursing Home along with other agencies to ensure residents needs are appropriately met.

The Trust does not have a role in making decisions on when regulatory inspections are undertaken. "Our responsibility is primarily to our residents who we place in care homes and we have arrangements in place to actively review the standard of care provided.

"It was during the provision of this support that the Trust identified issues in relation to compliance with the infection prevention and control requirements and concerns about the leadership and governance arrangements in the home. We met with Runwood Homes to discuss our concerns but we did not receive the assurances that these issues were being addressed in a timely or thorough way.

"The Trust immediately escalated these concerns to RQIA leading to a multi-agency approach involving RQIA, relevant Trusts, PHA and Department of Health which resulted in adult safeguarding arrangements being put in place," they said.

A number of measures have been undertaken with the home to prepare for Covid-19, including extra staff provision and training, the Trust said.

"It was during the provision of this support that the Trust identified issues in relation to compliance with the infection prevention and control requirements and concerns about the leadership and governance arrangements in the home.

"We met with Runwood Homes to discuss our concerns but we did not receive the assurances that these issues were being addressed in a timely or thorough way. The Trust escalated all of these concerns to RQIA in line with normal procedures," they said.

Belfast Telegraph