Health trust takes over running of care home shut down over failings

Posted By: September 02, 2017

SHUT DOWN: Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen

Seanín Graham. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, September 2, 2017

THE Western Health Trust is to temporarily take over the running of a Co Fermanagh care home shut down by the watchdog over care failings – as they attempt to find new places for its seven remaining residents.

In an unprecedented move, the trust has been officially approved as the newly registered provider of Ashbrooke nursing home in Enniskillen after it previous operator, Runwood Homes, was castigated over its management of vulnerable patients.

A total of 40 residents, many of whom suffered from dementia-related illnesses, were living in the facility until earlier this month.

While the majority were moved to new placements in the Fermanagh area over the past fortnight, trust officials confirmed yesterday that they were still searching for suitable accommodation to ‘meet the individual needs’ of the remaining seven.

A spot inspection carried out by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) on August 16 discovered serious shortcomings, with some residents not being washed in a month while others displayed worrying weight loss.

While Runwood, which is Essex-based and runs 12 homes across the north, accepted the regulator’s findings, the company is now taking legal action and appealing the decision to close the premises – a process that could take months.

Following the devastating inspection, the trust – which is ultimately responsible for the residents as they referred them to Ashbrooke – set a 10-day deadline to re-house them. The deadline passed yesterday.

It is understood the trust’s takeover will last a matter of weeks.

Kieran Downey, executive director of social work for the trust, said: “We continue to support the residents and their families to ensure the placement of our clients to suitable accommodation which meets their individual needs. To date, 33 clients have been assigned to accommodation within the Fermanagh area.

“Unfortunately given the tight timescale, appropriate accommodation could not be obtained for a number of clients within the local area. With the health and well-being of the clients under our care is our utmost priority, the trust has been approved by the RQIA as the registered provider of Ashbrooke Care Centre from September 1, 2017. This will enable the trust to effectively coordinate the planned discharge of the remaining residents to suitable facilities, close to family and in the local community.”

Gavin O’Hare-Connolly, group operations director of Runwood Homes, welcomed the move, saying it gave “breathing space” to relocate residents who remain in their care.

He added: “We intend to have weekly meetings with our staff to update them on the ongoing situation and we will be offering them redeployment to sister homes or redundancy as appropriate.

“Runwood Homes intends to lodge an appeal against the RQIA decision to close the home in the next week.”

Meanwhile, RQIA chief Olive Macleod, last night described the Ashbrook’s care failings as “systematic”. She confirmed the home will close its doors “when the remaining residents are placed in alternative accommodation.”