Belfast Telegraph

Tyrone care home branded worst in Northern Ireland ordered to close

  • Inspector’s damning assessment as Tyrone facility is told to improve or shut
  • Health chiefs seek accommodation for 75 residents moved out for their safety
Valley Nursing Home
Valley Nursing Home
Olive Macleod
Lisa Smyth

By Lisa Smyth

A care home has been ordered to close after regulators branded it one of the worst ever seen in Northern Ireland.

Valley Nursing Home in Clogher, Co Tyrone will shut its doors in 51 days unless the owners can successfully prove that the home is safe. In the meantime, health bosses have been tasked with finding alternative accommodation for the 75 people currently living there.

The home provides nursing residential care to people with a range of complex needs, including stroke survivors and dementia patients.

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) gave notice to cancel the registration of the home last Friday.

It came after the latest series of RQIA inspections on December 3, 16 and 17 highlighted "significant concerns" relating to management of the home, the health and welfare of residents, infection control prevention and the environment in the facility.

Chief executive of the RQIA, Olive Macleod, said: "This is a home we have been monitoring very closely, particularly since July of this year."

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Olive Macleod

"We have inspected it on 10 occasions and we have met with the provider, the person who owns the home, and we're not seeing a sustained improvement. In fact, we are seeing a deterioration.

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"There have been failings across the board, the patients have been failed by the management. The staff have worked really hard to support the patients, but they haven't had a good quality of life in this home.

"Their dignity hasn't been protected. It is one of the worst homes we have seen in Northern Ireland, particularly since I have joined the organisation.

"A home needs a good manager and it hasn't had a manager for many months.

"There have been turnaround managers that haven't turned it around and have left the home and the patients to their own devices."

A meeting was held on December 20 to discuss the RQIA's intention to close the home.

The management of the home was given an opportunity to explain what steps it planned to take to address the failings.

However, the watchdog said: "RQIA was not assured during this meeting about your capacity to improve. Given the lack of sustained improvements since July 2019, and the potential for matters outlined in this notice to negatively impact on the delivery of safe and effective care to patients, this notice of proposal has been issued."

A member of staff who answered the phone at the home on Tuesday night hung up when asked to comment on the action being taken by the RQIA.

The most recent publicly available inspection report of the home, from a visit in September, revealed a litany of distressing failings there.

It said: "Staff knowledge in relation to the management of needle stick injuries, dilution rates for disinfectants and management of blood spillages was lacking."

The report said inspectors have found dirty patient equipment in the home, including commodes and raised toilet seats.

Only 60% of staff demonstrated good hand hygiene. Mattresses were heavily stained, while there were also a number of stained and torn duvets, all of which were described as "not fit for purpose". A significant gap was also uncovered with regards to cleaning - in one unit there was no entry recorded between August 17 and September 17.

The report continued: "Throughout the home more attention to detailed cleaning was identified. High and low level dust was evident in both patient and non-patient areas. In the patient areas there was debris evident on floor corners, cobwebs in bedrooms and a clinical room; ceiling fans and radiators were dusty.

"Non-patient areas such as dirty utility rooms and treatment rooms required de-cluttering and cleaning.

"Senior management do not have oversight of the quality of cleaning practices in the home. More attention to detail and better governance arrangements are required."

Reacting to the proposed closure, Aidan Hanna from NI Patient Voice welcomed the move.

However, he added: "While I believe this is good news, it is concerning that the home has 56 days [as of last Friday] to dispute the notice. There are also serious questions to be asked as to why it has taken the RQIA so long to take this step.

"I believe the home has been given far too many chances.

"If you look at the inspections from the last three to five years, they have been completely dreadful."

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