Belfast Telegraph

Horrific report on Northern Ireland care home - residents endured sex assaults and spent last moments of their lives in appalling circumstances at Dunmurry Manor

By Mark Edwards

Residents at a Northern Ireland care home endured horrific treatment, including physical and sexual assaults, with many spending the last few months of their lives living in appalling circumstances, a damning report has found.

The disturbing report, published today, outlines the shocking care given to residents at Dunmurry Manor Care Home and the actions of its owner, Runwood Homes Ltd, the Department of Health, Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and four of the five health and social care trusts that placed residents in the home.

Speaking about his investigation, the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch said: “When I launched my investigation into Dunmurry Manor nothing prepared me for what I was about to uncover.

"When a loved one is in a care home we expect them to be provided with good food, adequate drinks, and kept safe from harm, physical and sexual assault. It makes me extremely angry that this was certainly not the case for everyone living in Dunmurry Manor.”

Mr Lynch found that some residents who were extremely vulnerable, living with dementia, experienced a horrific catalogue of inhuman and degrading treatment. With some patients spending the last moments of their lives in appalling circumstances.

He added: “There were significant failures in the safeguarding and care of many residents in Dunmurry Manor, with residents suffering harm through physical and sexual assaults.

“My investigation found that many of these terrible incidents occurred during periods of time when the regulator, the RQIA, reported the home to be meeting the required standards of care.”

The standard of care was not addressed despite the regulator carrying out 23 inspections in a 39 month period. The inspections did not find the extent of the problems experienced by many residents. The report also says Runwood Homes Ltd failed to respond to the concerns identified by staff and relatives.

Mr Lynch said: “Over the course of my investigation my team spoke to 119 witnesses and I was heartbroken by many of the families’ testimonies about their loved ones’ experiences in Dunmurry Manor.

"For many relatives and staff, it took a great deal of courage to come forward and I pay tribute to their bravery and tenacity in pursuing better conditions for their family members and the older people under their care."

The report makes 59 recommendations for change to the way care is commissioned and monitored.

The report has been presented to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, and the Head of the Civil Service David Sterling.

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Eddie Lynch

Eleanor Hayes, the Commissioner’s expert adviser in nursing and care said: “When I looked at the evidence I was shocked by distressing incidents such as residents going for weeks without their prescribed medication, unexplained weight loss of ten stone in five months and failure to adequately treat ungradable bedsores down to the bone are completely unacceptable.

"There was a complete lack of leadership shown by Runwood Homes Ltd and Dunmurry Manor and any staff who were trying their best were completely let down by management.”

The managing director of Runwood Homes Group UK, which owns and manages Dunmurry Manor, resigned yesterday ahead of the publication of the report.

Gordon Sanders, chief executive of Runwood Homes Group UK, said: "Our elderly citizens are some of the most vulnerable people in our community and as such have the right to expect the very highest standards of care and consideration.

I am truly sorry we failed to deliver the high standards of care our residents at Dunmurry Manor had the right to expect and that, because of those failures, they and their families have had to endure this distressing experience. Gordon Sanders, chief executive of Runwood Homes Group UK

"The Board of Directors acknowledge and take full responsibility for these failures and the lack of oversight that could have ensured they did not happen."

Mr Sanders said he had put a new Northern Ireland senior management team in place in August 2017 which is working to put things right at Dunmurry Manor, assuring residents and their families that "corrective action" has been taken.

He said that an Interim Report carried out for the Department of Health NI observed the home is now working very well, with a personalised, kindly and respectful approached.

He added: "I want to assure residents and their families we have learned from our mistakes and will ensure nothing like this ever happens again. Ultimately, I cannot put the clock back - but I can make sure there are positive changes for the future."

Only a couple of the original Dunmurry Manor care staff employed during the period in question are still working there.

None of Runwood Homes NI’s current Senior Management Team was in post or employed by Runwood Homes Group during the period investigated by COPNI.

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