Lessons to be learned from Dunmurry Manor, admits trust in apology
The South Eastern Health Trust yesterday apologised for its failures at Dunmurry Manor care home and admitted there were lessons to be learned.
It followed a similar announcement from Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly, who revealed plans to enhance standards and restore public confidence in care homes here.
He also apologised to residents and families "who were let down".
Mr Pengelly's statement came in the wake of the Commissioner for Older People's report into poor conditions and degrading treatment of residents.
And while Commissioner Eddie Lynch said the department's statement is welcome, he added: "I have yet to see evidence that will assure me that these failings are confined to the past.
"Action must and will be taken to ensure that failings such as those seen in Dunmurry Manor care home are never repeated.
"I am pleased that the families and residents of Dunmurry Manor have now received an apology.
"The actions which are now being taken forward by the department are an important first step - albeit that some of these steps listed were already in place.
"My focus is now on ensuring that all of the relevant authorities provide a comprehensive response over the next two-and-a-half months, detailing clear action plans which will bring about the required changes across the health and social care system."
Mr Pengelly insisted the Government was taking Mr Lynch's report "very seriously". "It is clear that unacceptable failings in care occurred repeatedly in the past," he said.
"That is a matter of extreme regret for everyone in the health and social care system.
Mr Pengelly said the new measures would ensure the failings at Dunmurry Manor were not repeated.
"In publicly saying sorry to residents and families who were let down, I must acknowledge that words alone are not enough," he added.
"Action must, and will, be taken to ensure that failings are not repeated.
"The primary responsibility for care and standards in homes run by the independent sector rests, of course, with the care home provider. But Dunmurry Manor must serve as a stark reminder to the system of its important responsibilities."
Following Mr Pengelly's comments, the South Eastern Health Trust, which also apologised, said it "absolutely recognises that there are lessons to be learned from the events in Dunmurry Manor for all parts of the system".
The trust added it "had already begun the process of putting changes in place based on its own learning from events in Dunmurry Manor".
"At this point there is evidence to demonstrate that the collective efforts of all of the statutory agencies and staff working in Dunmurry Manor have resulted in improvement. Getting to this point has prevented the inevitable distress that results for residents and their families should a home have to close," it said.
An independent review will be carried out in relation to the actions of the health and social care system's involvement in failings at Dunmurry Manor.
A workshop event will also be held to address concerns around Dunmurry Manor and care home provision in Northern Ireland generally, and the department also announced investment plans to improve care at nursing and residential homes.
These include £325,000 this financial year to support nursing in-reach from trusts in care homes and £80,000 funding to improve skills to meet nursing care needs.