Belfast Telegraph

Firm that ran failed care home in Northern Ireland ends legal attempt to reopen it

By Lisa Smyth

A bid to overturn a decision to close a nursing home described as the worst ever seen by health inspectors has been halted.

Runwood Homes has withdrawn its appeal over the decision to shut Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen.

The chairman of the Care Tribunal subsequently dismissed proceedings last Friday.

Runwood Homes said: "We can confirm we have withdrawn our appeal. We are now considering options for the future of the facility which will best serve the needs of older people in the wider town and county area."

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has welcomed the development.

The health watchdog took the unprecedented action of closing the Co Fermanagh home last August after an urgent inspection found a series of startling failings. Conditions were deemed so dangerous that RQIA inspectors did not follow the normal course of action - a serious concerns meeting with management.

The RQIA took its concerns to a lay magistrate, who ordered that the facility must close with immediate effect.

At the time, the home had 40 residents and cared for elderly people and those with dementia.

Health trusts and families of people living there were forced into the difficult task of finding alternative accommodation.

The inspection report revealed a catalogue of shocking failings.

One patient with diarrhoea was left for 20 minutes without help, while another resident was believed to have gone without a shower for five weeks.

During the inspection, patients and their relatives said that they had seen staff crying while working because they were under so much pressure.

A notice on display in the home said: "For the month of August all food must be fortified. Residents are losing weight alarmingly."

Records showed two patients had lost more than one stone in a week and there was no evidence this had been addressed.

Relatives also told inspectors staff did not have time to feed patients, and a resident said meals were often served cold.

Serious concerns were also raised by the inspectors regarding the personal hygiene of residents, with the majority described as "unkempt".

The report stated: "One relative stated that the standard of personal care provided to her mother and other patients had deteriorated significantly and she was of the opinion that this was due to the high usage of agency and shortage of staff.

"Comments included 'dirty nails, clothing stained and hair sticky'."

A strong smell of faeces and urine was evident throughout the home, while the nurse call bell was not working in a number of areas.

Inspectors deemed the situation "was impacting on the dignity and safety of all patients".

Belfast Telegraph

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