The brother of a resident of a Co Tyrone care home which shut has called for an independent inquiry into the circumstances of its closure.
On November 4, 2020, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) issued a notice proposing to cancel the registration of the Valley Nursing Home’s care provider, with serious concerns cited around care quality and patient environments.
Action commenced to transfer the 53 residents of the Clogher home to other facilities. However, it would emerge 20 died in the immediate aftermath of leaving the home, including an elderly man receiving end-of-life care.
Gerry Cullen, who has campaigned for answers, said an independent inquiry is needed amid concerns that a ‘Lessons Learned’ review report did not reflect concerns raised by patients, relatives, staff and others since the closure announcement.
His brother Donal was a resident of Valley Nursing Home for eight years.
He said: “This report clearly points to dreadful working relationships between the RQIA, the Health Trusts, Healthcare Ireland and the home owners, MPS Care. The closure of the Valley Nursing Home had a devastating impact on patients, families and staff.
“Only an independent public inquiry into the circumstances leading to the closure and the subsequent deaths of so many patients will get to the truth.
“All involved – including those patients, families and staff – must be invited to contribute. I have no faith in the abilities of the RQIA and other relevant authorities to candidly investigate themselves in this serious matter.”
Mr Cullen pointed out an RQIA description of the Valley Nursing Home as “the worst in Northern Ireland” created a climate of fear and mistrust.
“It also raised the spectre of abuse and neglect, resulting in online and public targeting of nursing staff and enormous fear and anxiety among patients,” he said.
“If RQIA truly believed this was taking place, they were legally required to report alleged perpetrators of any such misconduct.
“As relatives, we know of no abuse or neglect, and the RQIA should publicly apologise for the pain and distress caused by their comments.
“If any person or organisation has information on abuse or neglect at the Valley Nursing Home – or at any other care home – I would implore them to pass it to the PSNI.”
He concluded: “We’ve had to fight for answers every step of the way.”
Last week the RQIA said: “RQIA worked closely with the HSC Trusts and the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (then Health and Social Care Board) to ensure a managed process to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all those receiving care in the home both during and following the enforcement process.”