Belfast Telegraph

We demand answers, say family of OAP beaten up by fellow care home resident

By Suzanne Breen

The family of a great-grandmother are furious after she was assaulted in a luxurious, modern nursing home on the outskirts of Belfast.

Sons of 81-year-old Kathleen Cunningham have spoken out following the incident at Kilwee Care Home in Dunmurry after their mother, a frail dementia sufferer, was beaten by a male resident.

However, the home’s management insisted they had responded adequately to the incident and told the Belfast Telegraph they had followed correct procedures.

Liam Cunningham described how one of his brothers arrived to visit their mother at the care home moments after the assault last Friday.

“He was absolutely horrified. My mother’s pillow and sheets were covered in blood; she had been battered. Her face was badly cut, she was deeply traumatised,” he said.

“A male resident in the home had entered mum’s bedroom and beat her as she lay in bed.”

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police attended an assault in the Cloona Park area of Dunmurry last Friday. Police have spoken to all parties involved.”

Photographs taken by the family show the great grandmother’s injuries. Another son, Terence Cunningham, said: “Her right hand swelled like a balloon as she had tried to use it to protect her face from the punches. It was very distressing for us to see her like that.”

The £3m home, which boasts state-of-the-art facilities, opened last year.

Liam, who is his mother’s legal guardian because of her dementia, said: “We want to know if the assailant had a history of violence and if it was suitable for him to be housed on a floor with dementia patients — the most vulnerable of all the elderly.”

The family are now seeking a meeting with Health Minister Edwin Poots.

A spokesman for Kilwee Care Home said staff were alerted to the assault by Mrs Cunningham’s “raised voice”.

He said two staff members escorted the assailant from the victim’s bedroom.

The spokesman said a doctor was contacted immediately. The assault was reported to “the care manager” and not the PSNI as this was “the appropriate response”.

Kilwee said a social worker advised that the home should insist on a house call from the GP but that the GP contacted didn’t feel this was necessary.

Mrs Cunningham was taken to hospital at the PSNI’s suggestion. They claimed she had no serious injury.

A “strategy meeting” is being arranged with the Belfast Health and Social Services Trust.

A Belfast Trust spokeswoman told the Belfast Telegraph: “It’s inappropriate to comment until the outcome of an investigation into the incident is completed.”

The Department of Health and Social Services said it had no comment pending the outcome of the investigation.

Belfast Telegraph

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