Belfast Telegraph

Ashbrooke owners urged to keep care home open

By Rebecca Black

A councillor whose father is a resident at a Co Fermanagh care home shut down suddenly by inspectors has urged the owners to work with the Western Health Trust to keep the facility open.

Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen was closed following an unannounced inspection on Wednesday when the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) found conditions it said posed a "serious risk to life". The regulators said it was the first time they had forced a home to close after finding conditions they described as the worst they had ever seen.

The Health Trust has taken over the care home temporarily and is working to rehome the 43 residents, many suffering dementia, within the next 10 days.

Raymond Farrell's father is one of the residents currently in the care home.

Mr Farrell, a DUP councillor in Fermanagh, said that he and other residents understand that their loved ones may be moved to other care homes as far away as Londonderry.

"From a personal perspective we didn't have any difficulties, my father has received excellent care, he has always appeared neat and tidy," he said. "I accept that concerns have been identified." Mr Farrell said he is concerned on the potential impact of having to move his father after five years at Ashbrooke.

He said the decision to close the home was a shock to him, and is now urging Runwood Homes, the Health Trust and RQIA to work together to address concerns and implement the changes required.

"Even at this late hour I would appeal to everyone to sit down and work this out," he said. "My father has a dementia illness, he is protected because his emotions are probably quite dulled, the impact has not hit him yet. I am thankful he is not experiencing stress at this time.

"I just find it all such a sad episode. Having to move to a new environment is stressful. We have heard that we could have to move as far as Derry to find a care home - that is a three-hour round trip."

UUP MLA Rosemary Barton has also called for Ashbrooke to remain open, but under the control of the Trust.

"Whilst I understand that the RQIA had to act swiftly to protect patient safety and their quality of care, by forcing the residents to move to other homes so quickly they could inadvertently be making a bad situation worse," she said.

"Major research from 2012 which looked into the impact of forced relocation between nursing homes on residents' health outcomes confirmed that ill-planned or casually implemented closures and relocations are stressful and linked to adverse outcomes in terms of symptoms, health and survival.

"I believe instead of Ashbrooke being closed, the Western Health Trust should intervene and take control of the home."

Failings in the inspection included dirty facilities, a strong odour of faeces and urine, and no evidence of action taken to address substantial weight loss in some residents. The RQIA said it is satisfied that the 10 other Runwood homes here are of a suitable standard.

A spokeswoman for Runwood said the Western Trust has taken over the rehoming of patients and referred us to their previous statement issued on Tuesday.

"We as an organisation are deeply saddened by the decision to close Ashbrooke Care Home and will do all in our power to ensure the transition of our residents to their new homes is as seamless as possible. The RQIA undertook focused inspections across all of our other Northern Ireland services since this decision was made and found no concerns," the previous statement read.

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