Dunmurry Manor: Inspectors had concerns before scandal broke
Health inspectors raised concerns about wound care and infection control at Dunmurry Manor two months ago.
The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) found six areas requiring improvement during its most recent inspection of the scandal-hit home on May 9 and 11 this year - just weeks before the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland revealed harrowing details of abuse and neglect uncovered during his investigation into conditions there.
A number of recommendations were made to raise standards following the May inspection, although no enforcement action was taken as the RQIA inspectors also found examples of good practice throughout the home, which is owned by Essex-based firm Runwood Homes.
However, the daughter of a former Dunmurry Manor resident said she is devastated that the home is still failing to meet basic standards.
Karen McVicker's mum Helen Bell was 72 when she died at Dunmurry Manor in November 2016.
At the time she had a pressure sore that was so severe her bone was exposed and it was infected with E. coli.
Ms McVicker said: "My mum walked in to Dunmurry Manor on February 18, 2016 and she left in a body bag on November 12, 2016.
"She weighed four stone and I was able to see her heart beating through her nightdress because she was just skin and bones.
"She had a pressure sore, and a whistleblower has told me it was so big she could have fit her fist into it, and it was also infected with E. coli.
"We're being told by the RQIA that the home is safe, but I think this inspection shows that things will never be good at Dunmurry.
"I'm so cross because it looks like lessons will never be learned."
According to the RQIA, an unannounced inspection was carried out on May 9 to assess whether concerns relating to catheter care and management identified in January had been addressed.
The inspector returned two days later after an anonymous source contacted the RQIA and reported concerns about management in Runwood Homes, registration of staff, and also alleged that two homes were being used to conduct business in respect to another service.
The inspection report, which has now been published by the RQIA, said: "Evidence of good practice was found in relation to staffing arrangements, recruitment, training and development of staff and with record keeping.
"Good working relationships were maintained. Patients were treated with dignity and privacy was maintained."
Alarmingly, however, it emerged that the wound dimension of one patient at the facility had not been updated for almost three weeks during the RQIA visit in May.
The RQIA inspector also noted that personal protection equipment dispensers were empty for at least five hours during his visit.
He ordered management to address the issues, with a deadline of May 30 for wound care concerns and May 18 to address infection control failings.
It is not known whether these targets have been met. However, health officials announced an outbreak of a superbug at the home on June 19.
Meanwhile, the family of a former resident who died at the home at the beginning of last month has told how staff did not wear aprons or gloves while working with their relative despite the fact she had a Clostridium difficile infection at the time.
Ms McVicker added: "We're being told things are better and there might be improvements but when you hear there are still problems with wound management and infection control, you realise things are never really going to change."
And she described recent comments by Runwood Homes owner Gordon Sanders as "a slap in the face".
Mr Sanders issued a statement on the day the commissioner's damning report was published in which he apologised for the litany of failings.
However, last week he referred to the findings of abuse and neglect suffered by residents as isolated cases, and said his lawyers would be responding.
Runwood Homes said: "The management and staff team at Dunmurry Manor continue to work closely with the RQIA and are pleased with the most current inspection.
"Six small issues regarding paperwork and record keeping were highlighted by the inspection and quickly rectified.
"The RQIA remain satisfied that the home is a safe and welcoming environment for all residents."
It added that in his recent interview, Mr Sanders sincerely reiterated his apologies to the families, but did pick up on the concerns expressed by the head of the RQIA, Olive Macleod, on factual issues only on the published version of the report.
"Runwood Homes take their responsibilities to residents, families and the regulatory authorities very seriously and will continue to work closely with all parties in bringing our final responses to the COPNI report," it added.