Belfast Telegraph

Daughter hits back at claim that her mum wished to stay at under-fire Antrim care home

By Lisa Smyth

The daughter of an 89-year-old woman injured at a Co Antrim care home has denied claims that the family wanted their mum to remain at the facility.

Fiona O’Neill said she was horrified at a claim by Runwood Homes, the company that owns Rose Court in Ballymena, that her mother had turned down alternative accommodation as she wished to remain at the facility.

Margaret O’Neill remained in hospital last night where she is receiving treatment for pneumonia.

She was taken by ambulance to Antrim Area Hospital in the early hours of Monday morning after she was found lying on the floor at 1.30am.

Mrs O’Neill, who has diabetes, had earlier been left sitting in a chair in the residential unit of the home as she was unable to sleep.

Ms O’Neill said the accident followed a series of problems with her mother’s care, including failing to respond to dangerously high blood glucose levels, prompting her family to make the decision to move Mrs O’Neill to another home.

Responding to a list of complaints about the care received by Mrs O’Neill, a spokeswoman from Runwood Home said earlier this week: “For legal and professional reasons, we cannot go into the specifics of care for individual residents.

“However, we can say this resident was made several offers of alternative accommodation and has turned them all down because she wishes to remain at Rose Court.”

However, in an astonishing U-turn yesterday, a spokeswoman from the company said it was the Northern Trust that said Mrs O’Neill had turned down offers of alternative accommodation.

She said the trust would be best placed to respond to concerns raised by the O’Neill family about the claims.

A spokesman from the Northern Trust last night said the organisation has only issued one statement, which did not make specific reference to Mrs O’Neill.

Mrs O’Neill’s daughter said: “I’m disappointed but not surprised.

“That’s completely obvious from the way they rang us when mum was in A&E after falling at their home and telling us that they had discharged her.

“They didn’t even have the courtesy to ask about my mum’s welfare.

“They’ve no regard for our family who have been horrified at how my mother has been treated or the distress they have caused all of us.”

Ms O’Neill said it was wrong to say that her mother turned down any offers of accommodation because she wanted to remain in Rose Court.

She added: “I have the email I sent to them on July 25 saying we wanted to remove her from the home and I have their reply.

“As for finding my mum alternative accommodation, there has been one real possibility but the other home assessed said that they could not cater to her needs so that was never a real offer.

“Apart from that, it is none of Runwood’s business what offers were made to my mum, it certainly wasn’t for them to comment.

“Believe you me, if we had been able to find mum suitable alternative accommodation we would have had my mum out of Rose Court, before she was left in a chair overnight and was injured while in their care.”

It is not the first time Runwood Homes has refused in recent months to comment on the controversy facing the company.

It issued a statement on the day the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland (COPNI) published his stinging findings into the conditions of Dunmurry Manor, another home owned by the Essex-based firm.

Apologising for the failings in the home, it said the managing director, Logan Logeswaran, had “in fact resigned his position from Runwood Homes Group UK”.

However, Mr Logeswaran contacted the Belfast Telegraph to deny he had left the company over the COPNI report.

Runwood Homes finance director Martin Cooper later said: “I can assure you Logan has left for his own personal reasons and he has left on completely good terms with us. We wish him the best going forward.”

When asked to explain the conflicting accounts given for Mr Logeswaran’s resignation, a spokeswoman declined to comment.

Belfast Telegraph

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