And directors benefit too despite firm failing to meet safety standards in NI
Disgraced care home provider Runwood Homes made an almost £20m profit while cash-strapped health bosses stepped in to support the firm during the pandemic, it can be revealed.
The company raked in millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money while failing to meet basic safety standards at a number of its homes across Northern Ireland.
Conditions were so dangerous at one home that the Department of Health stepped in to remove residents as Covid-19 ripped through the facility.
The relocation of residents from Clifton Nursing Home – which has since been renamed City View Court — did not go ahead after an alternative provider was brought in as an interim manager.
Despite this, documents filed with Companies House have shown Runwood Homes made a £19.8m profit across its UK-wide operation in the year up to September 30, 2020 — up from £11.4m the previous year.
According to the report, the firm received more than £2m in government grants, which went towards the likes of furlough and support with infection control measures.
More than £3m was paid in dividends and £3.8m was paid in directors emoluments, with the highest paid director getting more than £3m.
The report states: “The group is proud of its many achievements within the local communities and has been duly recognised at care and nursing awards throughout the year.
“The group values the contribution and commitment of all staff in providing excellent care services around the group.
“A year that included the world being severely impacted by the emergence of Covid-19, the unwavering leadership at home level to support residents through the crisis was remarkable.
“The group does not take the actions issued by the authorities lightly with the directors continuing to strive to address the concerns raised and ensure the continued success of the company.
“The directors continue to demonstrate that lessons have been learned from the recommendations highlighted as those homes previously impacted by suspensions are now on the road to full recovery.”
Northern Ireland’s health watchdog carried out a series of inspections of homes owned by Runwood Homes in 2020 in response to concerns raised over the safety of residents.
After an inspection of Oak Tree Manor, formerly known as Dunmurry Manor, last August, management was summoned to attend a serious concerns meeting with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).
It came after the watchdog received information from the South Eastern Trust which alerted it to possible issues in relation to the nutritional care of residents.
The inspector subsequently raised concerns abut staffing rotas, nutritional audits, nutritional care of a resident, and the statutory notification of incidents to the RQIA.
Some staff also reported that portion sizes had been too small on occasions in previous months, while a resident was seen struggling without help to eat a meal.
The provision of activities for residents was also limited, while the inspector said “no attempt was made by senior staff to effectively address” reduced staffing levels on the first day of the inspection.
Meanwhile, a police investigation is ongoing into an alleged breach of Covid-19 legislation at Glenabbey Manor in Glengormley, although it is not linked to the deaths of 14 residents suffering with Covid-19.
A separate official probe is underway following an outbreak of Covid-19 at Clifton Nursing Home last May, in which nine residents are known to have died with the virus.
Care home provider Healthcare Ireland subsequently replaced Runwood Homes to manage the home on a temporary basis after the firm repeatedly failed to address serious failings.
Julieann McNally from CHASNI (Care Home Advice and Support) last night said: “We believe that the significant profits posted by Runwood Homes should be used to repay the trusts for the support provided during the pandemic. This is money that could be used to help address our massive hospital waiting lists.”
The Department of Health was contacted for comment, while a spokesperson for Runwood Homes said: “We have nothing further to add to what is already presented in the directors’ report.
“A new company has since been formed to manage all 12 homes in Northern Ireland. Kathryn Homes is now solely responsible for the operations of all these homes with the aim of enhancing the standards of care delivered, and a new board of directors has been appointed signifying local accountability.”