Belfast Telegraph

More than 160 incidents reported at Owen Mor care home in under a year

Owen Mor Care Centre
Owen Mor Care Centre

By Lisa Smyth

A scandal-hit care home reported more than 160 incidents to regulators over a 10-month period, it can be revealed.

There were 12 incidents at Owen Mor Care Centre where residents sustained a head injury, and issues with medication on 30 separate occasions, between January and October of this year.

The Londonderry home, which is currently closed to new admissions over concerns for residents' safety, also reported 49 accidents to the Regulatory and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) over the last nine months.

It can also be revealed that Eddie Lynch, the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland, has met with the PSNI after he was contacted by former employees and relatives of residents about conditions at the home.

Mr Lynch said he has held a series of meetings in recent weeks with a range of authorities to discuss concerns raised surrounding the care provided at Owen Mor Care Home.

"These meetings have taken place with the Western Trust, the RQIA, PSNI, home provider and a number of families who have approached my office reporting their concerns and seeking my assistance," he said.

"As a result we now have several live cases which are being handled by my legal team.

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"I cannot comment on the nature or content of individual cases, but I am continuing to liaise with authorities as appropriate and will persist in doing so whilst the home remains under enforcement action."

All care homes in Northern Ireland must by law report any adverse incidents to the RQIA, which allows the body to ensure minimum basic safety standards are being met.

According to information provided to the RQIA by Owen Mor Care Centre, residents at the home sustained injuries in 39 separate incidents between January and October 2019.

There were seven occasions when residents sustained a broken bone, three cases of neglect and five of misconduct referred to the RQIA.

In one uncategorised accident, which was referred to the RQIA on October 14, a resident was found sitting on the floor in their own bedroom and staff was alerted by shouting.

In another incident reported to the RQIA just a few days before, a nurse signed for the administration of medication at 8am but did not give it to the resident until four hours later.

The nurse said "this was common practice".

In September a member of staff was walking past a room and heard a resident calling for help. They subsequently found the resident lying on the floor.

There were also examples of employees being assaulted by residents, including an occasion where a carer's arm was twisted, another where a carer was headbutted, and another incident where a resident spat at a carer.

There is no criminal investigation ongoing in relation to concerns about the home, an 81-bed facility for people with learning difficulties, mental health issues and dementia.

However, a PSNI spokeswoman said officers "would always encourage anyone with information regarding potential crimes to provide that information to police".

Health officials are coming under increasing pressure to launch an inquiry into conditions at the home.

It comes after former employees and families of residents have come forward to raise concerns.

In September a former care worker said: "There were no wipes, no dermal wash. The incontinence pads were either too big or too small.

"The very basic, very fundamental parts of care the residents need were severely lacking."

Aidan Hanna from NI Patient Voice said: "More and more concerns are coming to light and the nature of the incidents are also very worrying.

"There are echoes of the issues that were highlighted by the Commissioner for Older People following his investigation of Dunmurry Manor, such as inadequate incontinence pads.

"I honestly believe that Owen Mor could become another Dunmurry Manor."

That home, on the outskirts of west Belfast, is at the centre of a police investigation after harrowing details of the conditions there were revealed by Mr Lynch.

Commenting on the current situation at Owen Mor, a spokesman from the RQIA said: "During our most recent inspection in late October we were pleased to find significant progress towards addressing the concerns identified by RQIA.

"RQIA continues to engage closely with the provider to support the home on its improvement journey.

"The safety and wellbeing of everyone living at Owen Mor is of utmost importance to RQIA, and in line with our legislative responsibilities we continue to monitor this home closely to ensure its management make the necessary improvements to fully address our concerns."

A spokesperson for Owen Mor said: "Owen Mor nursing home, which provides full-time and respite care for those with a range of learning disabilities, mental health problems and dementia, has been working closely with its regulator the RQIA and the Western Trust to improve standards, and improvements are ongoing in the home.

"Significant and continued improvements have been noted by the RQIA during recent inspections.

"Owen Mor, in line with its statutory duties, keeps the RQIA notified under Regulation 30 of any incidents which arise during the delivery of healthcare services, and it is the management's understanding that the number of notifications provided to RQIA are in line with this size of facility and the categories of care provided.

"Owen Mor contacted the Commissioner for Older People in September to see if he had a role to mediate with a complaint we had received. Owen Mor also arranged a meeting with Mr Lynch in October to share our improvement plan and discuss our complaints procedure. We have continued in our efforts to keep Mr Lynch fully informed.

"However, we have not been made aware until now that Mr Lynch has engaged his legal team in dealing with concerns regarding Owen Mor patients.

"We would again welcome dialogue with Mr Lynch and any family who has concerns and encourage them to enter into dialogue with us.

"Owen Mor continues to meet with relatives, update them on our progress and identify any issues they may have. Feedback received from families has been positive and encouraging and we would like to thank our relatives, staff and indeed residents for their continued support and appreciation of Owen Mor."

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