Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Intimidation of care home staff shocking

There is no excuse for how some residents in Dunmurry Manor care home were treated in the past. The Home Truths report by the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland was damning, revealing a disturbing catalogue of negligence, lack of proper management control and oversight, and poor performances by regulatory and funding bodies. Little wonder it caused such anguish and anger among relatives.

However, there is equally no excuse for the threats and intimidation of staff currently working at the home. As revealed today, they have been issued with personal attack alarms as they go about their work in fear.

Cars being driven past the home in a menacing manner, callers at the home intimidating staff, one worker being attacked with a bottle, another having her car damaged and a tyre slashed. The incidents have extended to families of staff members, with children being taunted and relatives being refused service in some shops.

This is the behaviour of the mob, a witch-hunt that should not be tolerated, and one that is directed at people who did not even work at the home when the incidents outlined in the report took place.

It is entirely proper that the failings of the home were exposed and that investigations should continue to see where blame lies and if any crimes or breaches of care protocols took place.

The report was the first step in that process and the care home management, staff, health trusts, regulatory bodies and even the Department of Health should be investigated to see what they knew and if they improperly failed to act.

What must also happen is that the current acts of intimidation and criminal damage should be rigorously investigated by the PSNI.

No doubt this behaviour had its genesis in the virtual world of social media and was then brought into the real world by people with thuggish intent.

The police must use their technological skills to track down those encouraging illegal actions.

We have reported too often on members of the emergency services and hospital staff being attacked and now that behaviour has been extended to the staff of a care home.

This will also cause fear among residents of the home. Police must act urgently to reassure staff and residents of their safety through a visible presence at the home and by bringing the thugs responsible to justice.

Belfast Telegraph

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