Legal Action Possible After Northern Ireland Home Accused of Shocking Failure to Care for Elderly Residents
- Posted by: curtislegalwp
- Category: News
Possible legal action against government agencies in Northern Ireland charged with overseeing the standards at nursing homes in the province may be brought by families of residents at Dunmurry Manor. Dunmurry Manor, a residential home for elderly people and those with dementia is owned by an English company, Runwood Homes.
A damning report of conditions at the home by the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland (COPNI), Eddie Lynch, has revealed a number of shocking failures at the facility. The most significant failures included that of a male resident whose bone was discovered exposed as the result of a failure to treat a pressure sore, a failure to provide medication at the home for three weeks, reports of residents in urine soaked clothes and a failure to prevent male residents assaulting female residents sexually.
Since the report was released, it has been revealed that at least two residents at the home, which is still currently operating, have been infected by C. difficile bacteria. This is an intestinal infection which does not normally cause a problem in younger, healthier people but can become a deadly threat to the elderly. It has been reported that one of the residents has already died of the infection.
Since the Commissioner’s report on the official investigation into Dunmurry Manor was released, the head of the government organization that is entrusted with protecting residents at institutions like Dunmurry Manor was reported to be vigorously defending its lack of action.
Mr. Lynch’s report detailed how the failure to provide medication to residents resulted in the sexual assaults, as the medication was partly administered to curb these sorts of activities. However, the head of the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), Olive MacLeod, has rejected the association between lack of medication and the behaviour of some of the residents and has said that the RQIA has been working to improve the standards at the home while recognising that they had fallen short in the past.
Mr. Lynch says that the facts uncovered by the 16 month long investigation speak for themselves and is ‘shocked’ that the RQIA has sought to defend its lack of action over the conditions at the home. The report detailed accounts by many of the family members who had elderly relatives at the home.
Now it seems that some of these family members may be taking legal action into their own hands. They may pursue action against government agencies involved in looking after the home as well as ‘various’ health ministers. The action may also precipitate criminal proceedings.
The Northern Ireland Health Service has reportedly paid £4.5 million to the owners of Dunmurry Manor to keep the home operating since it opened for business in 2014. Meanwhile, the owner of Runwood Homes, Gordon Sanders, has said that he has ordered changes to the way the home is to be managed in response to the COPNI report. The managing director of Runwood Homes, Logan Logeswaran, is reported to have resigned from the company a day before the report was released, although Mr. Logeswaran and the company’s finance director, Martin Cooper, say the timing is coincidental and that Mr. Logeswaran’s departure had ‘nothing to do with the report.’
Pressure sores are routinely allowed to develop in far too many privately run residential care facilities throughout Britain as well as a number of NHS facilities, but this particular case takes it far beyond a single issue and reveals a systemic failure to uphold normal standards at the home.
It seems a pity that family members have to wait for a damning report to be published to know exactly how their loved ones are being so badly treated. If you do suspect that your elderly relative is being mistreated at a residential home, whether it is pressure sores not being properly treated or any other signs o neglect as has been documented by this report in Northern Ireland, you should discuss the matter with a solicitor. Legal action can help to rectify poor standards at a nursing home and shine a spotlight on the failings of government agencies entrusted with supervising those standards.