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Police extend investigation into alleged abuse at Dunmurry care home

By Lisa Smyth

The police probe into alleged abuse suffered by residents at a Belfast care home is to be extended, it can be revealed today.

Detectives investigating a litany of alleged abuse and neglect at Dunmurry Manor have said they are widening their work to follow new lines of enquiry.

Julieann McNally, whose grandmother lived at the home, said she had been contacted by officers last week with an update on their investigation.

"We got a phone call from the police who told us that their investigation into Dunmurry Manor is widening as a result of information they have gathered so far. It seems that they are going to be investigating more people than they originally expected," she said.

"As a family we are obviously delighted at this development and we hope the police are able to progress their investigation swiftly."

In August, the PSNI launched the investigation into allegations of mistreatment of residents at Dunmurry Manor.

It came after an explosive report into conditions at the home by the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch. He made a damning assessment of the conditions at the facility in which he outlined inhumane and degrading treatment of residents.

Findings included residents going without medication for weeks at a time, resident on resident sex attacks, unexplained injuries and shocking weight loss.

One resident had a bed sore so deep that her bone was exposed, while family members were forced to buy incontinence pads for their loved ones as the ones provided by the home were of such poor quality.

Mr Lynch also revealed that staff members bought their own blood pressure monitors because the ones in the home were broken.

He launched his investigation into the facility after concerns were repeatedly raised by health trusts, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and relatives of residents at the home.

When the Commissioner published his findings in June, he said: "My investigation found that many of these terrible incidents occurred during periods of time when the regulator, the RQIA, reported the home to be meeting the required standards of care.

"Despite the regulator carrying out 23 inspections in a 39 month period, they did not find the extent of the problems experienced by many residents.

"There was a failure by Dunmurry Manor and its parent company, Runwood Homes Ltd, to respond to the concerns identified by staff, relatives, and some inspections.

"This was compounded by a failure of statutory agencies to act to protect the basic human rights of residents and their families."

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "Detectives from PSNI Public Protection Branch continue to investigate allegations concerning the treatment and care provided to residents at Dunmurry Manor Care Home.

"As the investigation has progressed, naturally new lines of enquiry have been identified and more families are coming forward to speak to us about their loved ones' experience.

"From the outset we have been clear that the investigation will go wherever the evidence takes us."

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