Belfast Telegraph

Dunmurry Manor care home staff given attack alarms after threats and intimidation

By Victoria Leonard

Staff at Dunmurry Manor care home have been issued with personal attack alarms by police after a series of social media threats of death, rape and shooting in the wake of a damning report earlier this month.

Runwood Homes, which owns the home, said staff had "come under serious and sustained attack since the publication of the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland's (COPNI) report on June 13".

In a statement issued on behalf of the firm's board of directors, the company said police were called to an incident outside Dunmurry Manor yesterday when "staff felt intimidated by a number of people in cars who arrived up at the care home just after noon".

Other alleged incidents involved a care assistant being "attacked with a bottle while leaving the building last weekend" and staff being "jeered at in the street, spat on or verbally attacked".

It was also said that a nurse had windows at her house smashed during the investigation, and had now had her car damaged and a tyre slashed.

And it was claimed that workers' children were "coming home from school in tears because they have been taunted that their mothers are 'sex abusers'".

Furthermore, staff and their children were "being refused service or shunned in some shops" and "numerous vicious and abusive phone calls" had been made to reception.

Other incidents were said to involve staff "entering or leaving the building being filmed by unknown persons" and "cars driving slowly up and down outside the home in a menacing manner".

The statement said that the PSNI had recently "issued every member of staff with a personal attack alarm", and that these were being distributed as staff came on duty.

It also revealed the home had been forced to install CCTV cameras.

Referring to yesterday's incident, the statement continued: "It is with great sadness and concern we confirm this is just the latest in a series of incidents involving care staff working at Dunmurry Manor, who have come under serious and sustained attack since the publication of the COPNI report on June 13.

"The PSNI has been informed about these incidents and is currently looking into them.

"They are happening despite the fact the current staff team, with just a few exceptions, didn't even work at Dunmurry when the historic cases occurred and the home has passed all inspections undergone over the past 15 months.

"The board of directors of Runwood Homes has worked hard with a new manager and a new senior team to improve standards at Dunmurry and we are currently reviewing the 59 recommendations of the Home Truths report."

The board confirmed that it had "referred a number of former members of staff to their regulatory bodies for investigation".

But added that it "cannot comment further for legal reasons".

It went on: "Our highest priority now is to continue to provide a safe and calm environment so that our residents can enjoy the highest standard of care carried out by staff who do not feel frightened or intimidated. We pay tribute to our staff, who have continued with consummate professionalism and dedication, and in very difficult circumstances, to deliver the excellent service our residents and families have the right to expect.

"We also wish to thank the families of our current residents for their kindness, understanding and overwhelming support at this very difficult time."

Unison regional secretary Patricia McKeown said her union "view it as completely unacceptable for any workers to be subject to any threats or intimidation of this kind" and said "rape alarms" had been given to "very distressed staff".

She added: "We condemn any persons making such threats and expect Runwood Homes to take action to protect our members in their place of work.

"The recent report of the COPNI into Dunmurry Manor was shocking and appalling.

"However, this does not justify any threatening or intimidating behaviour.

"We would urge any workers with concerns to contact the police, and Unison if they are members of the union, immediately and we expect a swift response from Runwood Homes and all relevant authorities."

Ms McKeown said Unison, which is not recognised by Runwood Homes, believed that "serious breaches of human rights of residents have occurred" and had "been raising these concerns with the RQIA and all levels of the health service for some years".

Commissioner for Older People Eddie Lynch appealed for calm.

"Whilst emotions are understandably running high following the publication of my findings on Dunmurry Manor Care Home, I completely condemn any attacks on the home or its staff," he said.

"For over 70 older people, Dunmurry Manor is their home and any attacks or disruption at the premises are likely to be greatly distressing for them.

"In addition, my investigation found that many members of staff at Dunmurry Manor tried their best to provide the care needed but they were let down by a lack of leadership, being expected to do the job with low numbers of staff and with little or no training.

"I am appealing for calm and for any intimidation or attacks on staff and the home itself to stop immediately.

"This behaviour does nothing to help the older people who are at the centre of this issue."

Belfast Telegraph

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