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Call for Western Trust to 'temporarily' take control of Ashbrooke Care Home

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Shut down: Ashbrooke Care Home

Shut down: Ashbrooke Care Home

Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen

Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen

Shut down: Ashbrooke Care Home

Calls have been made for the Western Trust to temporarily take control of Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen to prevent residents being forcibly moved to other locations.

Ashbrooke Care Home, a 64-bed home for the elderly, was ordered to shut its doors last Friday by health authorities.

It was operated by Runwood Homes, which claimed it did not get prior notification of the closure and said that an inspection in May found safe delivery of care.

It's the first time Northern Ireland's healthcare watchdog the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has taken such immediate action.

It considered that there was a "serious risk to the life, health and wellbeing of all those living at Ashbrooke, and that assurances from the provider were not sufficient to address the risks identified".

It noted bad smells along with defective equipment, fire risks and concerns about staffing and a lack of clarity about management of the home.

At present the residents are still in the home as health chiefs try to find new beds for around 40 of the residents.

UUP MLA Rosemary Barton on Wednesday called on the Western Health and Social Care Trust to temporarily step in and take control of the Ashbrooke care home.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said she has written to the Chief Executive of the Trust Dr Anne Kilgallen.

She said: "People are furious that the residents were not receiving the standards of care they deserved from management of the home and from the Runwood company, however this anger is now being overtaken by a feeling of anxiety in relation to the upheaval and uncertainty that each of the residents are now facing.

“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.

“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. Yet, when carefully planned and managed, closures are linked to better outcomes than disorderly relocations.

“I believe instead of Ashbrooke being closed, the Western Health Trust should intervene and take control of the home. The Trust has the experience and expertise to immediately put right many of the failings identified by the RQIA. The care staff are already mostly in place, so it would simply be a temporary change of management. Indeed, the Trust could even charge Runwood for the period they are in control.

“There is a recent precedent for a Trust stepping in like this. In January this year the Southern Health Trust took over the contract of Bannview Medical Practice in Portadown to prevent its imminent closure after its last remaining doctor resigned.

“If the Western Trust agrees to step in it would mean that no residents are forced to relocate to other homes, most of which are only available great distances away.”

The Western Trust has been contacted for a response.

In response to the calls Runwood Homes said: "We are awaiting to receive from the RQIA the Inspection Report which led to the issue of the Order of Cancellation in respect of Ashbrooke Care Home.

"Further to that Runwood is closely communicating with the Western Health and Social Care Trust and there is a strategy in place by both parties to safeguard the welfare of the residents and to reduce any major disruption.

"We have not received any other communication from any other parties in relation to the take over and in these circumstances Runwood Homes is not able to comment on this situation further."

A RQIA spokesman said:  “Prior to the registration of any new provider of a service, RQIA must be satisfied that a wide range of requirements are met, ranging from appropriate management and leadership arrangements, the physical state of a premises, to suitably trained and qualified staff to deliver safe, effective and compassionate care.

"During our inspection at Ashbrooke Care Home, Enniskillen last week, we identified systemic care failures and significant issues in relation to the management and oversight of this service.   We considered all options available to RQIA, however, we believe that urgent order to cancel the registration of Ashbrooke Care Home, was the only course of action to address these serious concerns.  

"At present, RQIA’s priority is to ensure that, as a matter of urgency, the Western Trust identifies alternative and suitable arrangements to meet the individual care needs of everyone living at Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen.” 

At the weekend RQIA carried out further unannounced visits at all of Runwood Homes facilities here and said it was "satisfied with the quality of care delivery at these services."

Belfast Telegraph