Belfast Telegraph

Former Enniskillen care home worker charged with ill-treatment

Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen, where a staff member is alleged to have ill-treated a patient in May 2017
Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen, where a staff member is alleged to have ill-treated a patient in May 2017

By Staff Reporter

A former member of staff at an Enniskillen care home is facing a charge of ill-treating a patient during an alleged incident two weeks after a largely positive inspection of the facility.

It’s alleged Sarah Margaret Johnston (41) of Kilsmullen Road, Lack, Co Fermanagh, ill-treated a woman being treated as an in-patient while she was employed at Ashbrooke Care Home.

The charge dates back to May 30, 2017.

A defence solicitor told Enniskillen Magistrates Court the documents in the case are “voluminous” and there are a number of legal issues he wished to explore before a plea is indicated.

However, he added: “The matter is unlikely to trouble the court but if it does, it will be on the basis of legal argument.”

No details surrounding the alleged incident were disclosed during the short hearing, although a lawyer appearing for the prosecution handed over a number of items of further evidence, including photographs.

District Judge Steven Keown agreed to adjourn the case for mention later this month.

It was initially unclear if Ms Johnston was a nurse or care worker as there was no record of her registration with either the Nursing & Midwifery Council or the NI Social Care Council. Further enquires revealed she was registered with the NISCC as a social care worker but that “has now lapsed”.

While Ashbrooke Care Home would ultimately be closed down, there is nothing to suggest the allegation against Ms Johnston was in any way a contributing factor to the decision.

The RQIA had carried out an unannounced inspection of Ashbrooke Care Home on May 15, 2017 to determine if care was safe, effective and compassionate, and if the service was well led.

Owned and operated by Runwood Homes, the facility received a largely positive report with marked areas of good practice. Mandatory training was noted along with satisfactory staffing arrangements with plans to increase these further, and patient outcomes were good.

It is alleged the incident currently before the court occurred a fortnight later.

Within three months, Ashbrooke would be closed down by the RQIA following a damning inspection report. Urgent action was instigated following reports of concerns which revealed standards had deteriorated to the point of serious risk to life. Inspectors described the care failings as the worst they had encountered.

A spokesperson for the RQIA said: “We don’t have a record of a notification in respect of this case.”

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