Commissioner for Older People delivers the Home Truths about life for many Dunmurry Manor residents
The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch is launching ‘Home Truths’ later today, a report on his investigation into the care and safety of residents living with demeCOPNI Home Truths Report
Last year the Commissioner launched his investigation into the care provided in Dunmurry Manor Care Home and the actions of its owner, Runwood Homes Ltd, the Department of Health, the regulator (RQIA) and four of the five Health and Social Care Trusts that had placed residents in the Home. Using his investigatory powers for the first time, the Commissioner responded to complaints from residents’ family members and former employees of Runwood Homes Ltd, raising serious concerns about the standards of care and safety within Dunmurry Manor.
The Commissioner’s report “Home Truths” will be published today setting out the disturbing findings of this investigation and making 59 recommendations to the authorities involved for change to the way care for older people is commissioned, regulated, monitored and delivered.
Speaking about his investigation, the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch said; “When I launched my investigation into Dunmurry Manor nothing prepared me for what I was about to uncover. When a loved one is in a care home we expect them to be provided with good food, adequate drinks, and kept safe from harm, physical and sexual assault. It makes me extremely angry that this was certainly not the case for everyone living in Dunmurry Manor.
“I found that some residents who were extremely vulnerable, living with dementia, experienced a horrific catalogue of inhuman and degrading treatment, with many spending their last few months living in appalling circumstances. There were significant failures in the safeguarding and care of many residents in Dunmurry Manor, with residents suffering harm through physical and sexual assaults.
“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.
“Over the course of my investigation my team spoke to 119 witnesses and I was heartbroken by many of the families’ testimonies about their loved ones’ experiences in Dunmurry Manor. For many relatives and staff, it took a great deal of courage to come forward and I pay tribute to their bravery and tenacity in pursuing better conditions for their family members and the older people under their care.
“I am angry that this problem is not a new one. Over three years ago the previous Commissioner advised Government that a whole-system change to the culture of care provision in care home settings was required. Much of that change has still not happened. We have seen the devastating consequence of inaction and lessons must be learnt. I am making 59 recommendations for change to the way care is commissioned and monitored; to the regulation and inspection of care homes and how complaints from families are handled. I have presented my report to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley MP and the Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling in his capacity as the secretary to the currently suspended Executive Committee. These recommendations seek to improve care and bring about significant change within the system, in the hope that the failings found within Dunmurry Manor will never be repeated again.”
To ensure the Commissioner’s investigation was as thorough and independent as possible, expert advisors in nursing care, safeguarding and human rights and the commissioning, regulation and inspection of care were appointed. Speaking about the investigation, my expert adviser in adult safeguarding and human rights Professor John Williams said: “There were significant failures by the Relevant Authorities to protect the basic human rights of vulnerable residents in Dunmurry Manor; older people living with dementia, unable to speak up for themselves. In the rest of the UK, there is a clear legal duty to report suspected abuse to a single authority and then for that authority to make enquiries. In Northern Ireland responsibility is unclear and homes such as Dunmurry Manor have too much power to keep issues in-house, and not report them externally.”
Eleanor Hayes, the Commissioner’s expert adviser in nursing and care said: “When I looked at the evidence I was shocked by distressing incidents such as residents going for weeks without their prescribed medication, unexplained weight loss of ten stone in five months and failure to adequately treat ungradable bedsores down to the bone are completely unacceptable. There was a complete lack of leadership shown by Runwood Homes Ltd and Dunmurry Manor and any staff who were trying their best were completely let down by management.”
Dr Robert Peat, the Commissioner’s expert adviser in the commissioning, regulation and inspection of care homes said: “The whole system failed residents in Dunmurry Manor and there were clear gaps of accountability which enabled the authorities’ lack of response to identified and serious cases of mistreatment.” Dr Peat continued: “Very few relatives were spoken to by the inspectors and managers told staff not to speak to the RQIA, so no one had a full picture of the really dreadful care in Dunmurry Manor.”
The Commissioner concluded “I now require the authorities to provide me with a formal response, outlining what will be done, and by when, by October this year. I will publish these responses so that the public can see what the authorities intend to do. Older people in Northern Ireland and their families must be able to be confident that all care homes are providing safe and compassionate care, and that robust action will be taken if they are not meeting the standard required.”
For further information, contact Christy Hunter, Communications and Engagement Manager:
Tel: 02890 890899 / 074 2399 6035
Notes to editor
- The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland will be publishing his investigation findings and recommendations at a press conference on Wednesday 13th June in the Clayton Hotel, Belfast. The Commissioner’s statement will start at 11.30am.
- During the suspension of the NI Assembly and Executive Committee, the Commissioner has presented his report to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP and the Head of the Civil Service, Mr David Sterling.
- Dunmurry Manor is a 76 bed nursing and residential home situated in Dunmurry and provides care for residents living with dementia.
- This is the first time that the Commissioner has conducted an investigation under his legal powers. A full copy of The Commissioner for Older People Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 can be downloaded here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nia/2011/1/contents
- A full list of the Commissioner’s findings and recommendations are detailed within ‘Home Truths: A Report on the Commissioner’s Investigation into Dunmurry Manor Care Home’. The full report and a summary version of the report will be available publically to download from noon at www.copni.org. A briefing containing all 61 findings and 59 recommendations is attached to this document. It also includes all case studies obtained through evidence that are included within the Commissioner’s investigation report.
- The Commissioner has made 61 findings about Dunmurry Manor Care Home under the themes of Safeguarding, Care and Treatment, Medicines Management, the Environment and Environmental Cleanliness, Regulation and Inspection, Staff Skills/Competence/Training and Development, Management and Leadership, Complaints and Communication and Accountability and Governance.
- The Commissioner has made 59 recommendations to the relevant authorities. The Commissioner requires the relevant authorities to respond to his recommendations setting out their proposals to address them within 3 months (which allowing for the July Holidays will be October 2018). The Commissioner will publish the responses and his views on them.
- One year from the publication of the report the Commissioner will publish and update on progress by relevant authorities on the implementation of his recommendations.
- For the purposes of the investigation, relevant authorities are as follows: the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), Dunmurry Manor Care Home, Runwood Homes Limited, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Southern Health and Social Care Trust and the Department of Health.
- A copy of the terms of reference for the investigation into Dunmurry Manor Care Home can be found here: https://www.copni.org/media/1230/terms_of_reference_dunmurry_manor_website.pdf
- The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland appointed the following experts to provide independent expert advice and guidance during the investigation: Eleanor Hayes (Nursing and Care), Professor John Williams (Legal, Safeguarding and Human Rights) and Dr Robert Peat (Regulation, Inspection and Commissioning). Full biographies can be found at: https://www.copni.org/useful-info/dunmurry-investigation
- Other relevant information on the investigation can be found at https://www.copni.org/useful-info/dunmurry-investigation
- The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland was established in 2011 and is a non-departmental public body. Both the Commissioner and the office are sponsored by the Department for Communities but are operationally independent. The Commissioner’s principal aim is to safeguard and promote the interests of older people, which is defined by legislation as including those aged 60 and over, and in exceptional circumstances, those aged 50 or over. The Commissioner has promotional, advisory, educational and general investigatory duties and powers. For more information please visit http://www.copni.org/images/publications/Short_guide_to_the_work_of_COPNI_2016.pdf.