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Families' concern after residents at Tyrone outbreak care facility go on trip


The Four Seasons Health Care facility in Dungannon

The Four Seasons Health Care facility in Dungannon

The Four Seasons Health Care facility in Dungannon

Concerns have been raised after residents from a Four Seasons Health Care facility where a Covid-19 outbreak had been confirmed were taken on a minibus trip to a sensory garden during lockdown.

The Dungannon Care Home visit came at the height of the health crisis and while testing was ongoing at the premises.

The Co Tyrone facility has confirmed this occurred earlier this month and contend it was at the invitation of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

However, despite the confirmed outbreak in the home, figures of those affected - which are understood to include residents and staff - are not being disclosed to families.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

Relatives of other residents are upset, as they claim social distancing would have been impossible, especially while in the minibus, and are adamant appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) was not used.

They are also critical of the lack of information being shared by the facility, having been repeatedly refused information about the number of confirmed cases among residents and staff.

It is claimed they were told that if their relative tested positive, they would be advised accordingly, and beyond knowing there is an outbreak, that is all which would be disclosed.

Relatives have described the trip as reckless, putting all those who travelled at risk as well as other residents, many of whom are vulnerable to infection which was already present in the home.

Four Seasons Health Care confirmed the trip had taken place.

A spokesperson said: "Three of our residents, accompanied by two staff, took part in a trip to the sensory garden on the St Luke's Site in Armagh, at the invitation of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

"The current, necessary restrictions are difficult for our residents who have a range of learning difficulties.

"This was an opportunity for a safe, controlled visit to the garden which gives our residents structure and routine and outdoor exercise which is very important to them. The staff on the trip had appropriate PPE and the residents were not symptomatic.

"The garden is not open to the public and of course we would never place our residents in any situation which is not fully controlled and, in this case, closed to the general public."

Four Seasons did not disclose how many staff and residents had tested positive for Covid-19.

The spokesperson replied: "We do not give details on individual homes, as a matter of policy."

The Southern Health Trust later confirmed that it had "contacted the home to advise that the sensory garden was open for service users and their families".

It also said: "Some residents from the Four Seasons Care Home attended the sensory garden on the St Luke's Site in Armagh on May 7.

"The residents were accompanied by a small number of staff from the home. The home was responsible for safe transportation and risk management of the activity.

"For everyone's safety, access to the garden is strictly controlled and is not open to the public.

"Social distancing restrictions have been especially difficult for this particular group of service users and their families, who enjoy structure, routine and some outdoor time."