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Dunmurry Manor boss was also at helm of other criticised homes

Dunmurry Manor care home
Dunmurry Manor care home

By Lisa Smyth

The first manager of Dunmurry Manor was previously in charge of a care home at the centre of a separate damning review, it can be revealed.

Maria Gillespie was the manager of Cherry Tree House in Carrickfergus in 2013 and was subsequently made manager of Dunmurry Manor as it prepared to open in 2014.

Runwood Homes, which owns Dunmurry Manor, appointed Ms Gillespie despite the fact she had been at the helm of Cherry Tree House when health inspectors uncovered a catalogue of shocking failings. She also got the job while an independent investigation into ongoing failings at Cherry Tree House was under way.

After leaving Dunmurry Manor, Ms Gillespie went on to manage Kingsway Private Nursing Home in Dunmurry, which was also subject to official sanctions after serious concerns were raised about the dignity and safety of residents there.

The latest revelation has prompted a leading patient safety organisation to demand urgent changes to the system.

Aidan Hanna from NI Patient Voice said: "Cherry Tree House, Dunmurry Manor and Kingsway have all had very serious concerns raised about them over the years.

"The same person being able to manage all three is something that must be addressed without delay by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)."

Ms Gillespie, who is a registered mental health nurse with no restrictions on her licence, was manager of Cherry Tree House in 2013 when an RQIA team carried out an inspection.

During the visit they found one resident with a visibly oozing wound, concerns were raised about the personal care of residents, staff didn't know who had wounds or pressure sores, and the inspectors also said there was a "missing link of strong leadership within the home". They were so horrified by what they found that they called a serious concerns meeting, attended by Ms Gillespie and other representatives from the home.

Meanwhile, in November 2013 the then Health Minister Edwin Poots ordered a review of the standard of care delivered at Cherry Tree House.

Ms Gillespie left Cherry Tree and had taken up her new post at Dunmurry Manor before the findings of the review were published in November 2014.

Speaking ahead of the opening of Dunmurry Manor in the summer of 2014, she said: "We are delighted to be opening such a progressive care facility in the area and are looking forward to getting involved with the local community."

However, within a matter of months Runwood Homes agreed to stop admitting new residents because RQIA inspectors had such serious concerns about the safety of people living there.

Ms Gillespie was no longer working as manager of the facility when the RQIA carried out an inspection on October 15, 2014.

However, she moved on to take up the post of temporary manager of Kingsway Private Nursing Home, where she was also criticised by the RQIA.

A report from the watchdog said: "During discussions with the acting manager it was evident that she was not fully conversant with the last quality improvement plan and was unaware that the registered person had met with RQIA in April 2015 to discuss serious concerns.

"This is of concern as RQIA would expect management to be fully aware of regulatory matters to enable then to address these.

"The lack of management stability was concerning to RQIA, especially given the findings from the previous inspection."

Runwood Homes said it was unable to immediately confirm details of Ms Gillespie's employment.

Belfast Telegraph


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