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PSNI investigated Dunmurry Manor care home three times

Harrowing details of neglect and abuse at Dunmurry Manor care home were uncovered in a landmark report by the Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

POLICE investigated a Belfast care home with a "horrific catalogue of inhuman treatment" three times between 2015 and 2016, but each time the case was closed without charges or prosecutions.

Harrowing details of neglect and abuse at Dunmurry Manor care home were uncovered in a landmark report by the Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch.

Among the findings were details of how residents went for "weeks on end without meals" and were denied medication.

One pensioner dropped from 15 stone to five stone over a few months and bed sores were so extreme they went "down to the bone" and became infected with E coli.

Relatives of some residents are understood to be seeking legal advice with view to taking legal action.

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However the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) said it "does not agree" with part of the scathing report, insisting there was no evidence of institutional abuse at the care home.

"In respect of the findings of resident-on-resident sexual assault, RQIA is very concerned at how the commissioner has chosen to present this finding.

"Disinhibited sexualised behaviour is not uncommon in people with dementia. For that reason, it is not regarded as criminal activity and is dealt with sensitively by health and social care trust safeguarding teams."

A PSNI spokeswoman said yesterday it was alerted to problems at the facility on three occasions.

In July 2015, a report was made of an assault on a male resident, however, following police enquiries, no statement of complaint was made by the resident's next of kin.

Police received a report in September 2016 regarding concerns about the behaviour of a staff member. Following an investigation by the South Eastern Trust, no criminal offences were disclosed.

A further report of offences against a vulnerable person was made in November 2016. Following a police investigation, the PPS directed no prosecution in May 2018.

The spokeswoman confirmed "there is currently no ongoing police investigation into matters at the care home".

Ann Berry and Julie and Bridie Shortt with a picture of the late Annie McCourt (89) at a press conference about Dunmurry Manor Care Home. Picture by Hugh Russell

In response to police, a joint statement was released on behalf of South Eastern, Southern, Northern and Belfast trusts.

"In instances where Trusts identified that the quality of care was not to the expected standard in Dunmurry Manor, we worked with the senior management of the home to ensure appropriate actions were taken and provided support for improvement," it said.

"Currently each Trust has no concerns regarding the quality of care for the people living in Dunmurry Manor."

Olive MacLeod, the chief executive of the RQIA said the home was inspected many times in the last two and a half years.

"My inspector found areas for improvement and we supported them to improve initially and when they didn't sustain that improvement we took the enforcement action."

Mr Lynch last night said he was shocked by the tone of the RQIA response to his report.

"My report is not a reflection of the experience of relatives, families and carers who submitted evidence to my investigation alone. It is a reflection of all of the evidence submitted including information submitted by the RQIA and the Health and Social Care Trusts, all of which was analysed by my expert panel," he said.

"RQIA documentation alone which was submitted in disclosure to my office, identifies 19 family complaints made directly to the RQIA and 38 complaints from across staff, Health and Social Care Trusts, healthcare professionals, the public and agency workers to the RQIA about Dunmurry Manor."

Meanwhile the Public Prosecution Service last night said it received a file from police in April 2018 relating to the alleged wilful ill-treatment of a patient prior to her death in 2016.

A senior public prosecutor considered all available evidence and decided there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution.

It said it was happy to meet the family to answer any questions they might have.

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