Northern Ireland news

Dunmurry Manor scandal: Devastating report reveals human rights abuses

Relatives of the late Annie McCourt at a press conference following the publication of a scathing investigation into Dunmurry Manor Care Home. Picture by Hugh Russell
Seanin Graham

ANIMALS are treated better.

That was the view of two young women of the ill treatment suffered by their "warrior" 89-year-old grandmother, Annie McCourt, who was left to lie face down in her vomit after falling out of her bed at Dunmurry Manor home two years ago.

"Grannie Annie", who was from west Belfast and passed away 10 months after being admitted to the facility with dementia, was adored by her 164 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Sisters Julie-Ann McNally and Maria Scott have since fought to get answers about the appalling care standards she experienced - lobbying staff, health trusts, the Department of Health and the regulator.

A photograph of Annie McCourt at yesterday's press conference. Picture by Hugh Russell

"Our granny, who was so independent, went into that home in January 2016 and came out by ambulance in June after she fell. She never went back. There was a 10-hour delay in contacting us and when we got there what we found was absolutely shocking," said Ms McNally.

"She was very unwell and propped up in a chair with vomit down her back. There were no nurses around. Even though she was only there for a few months we were so concerned about her medication, her hygiene and continence issues.

"We made so many complaints but no-one listened. Today they should all hang their heads in shame."

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Mrs McCourt's family have launched a campaign to introduce CCTV in communal areas in care homes for the "protection of vulnerable residents".

They have also contacted the coroner and asked for an inquest to be opened.

"She was our hero, someone who had lost her own mother at six years old and helped rear her family, and who had come through the Second World War and the Troubles. She loved going out and was so sociable. To think she was left like this in her final months - animals are treated better," said Ms Scott.

Some of the families at yesterday's press conference in Dunmurry Manor Care Home. Picture by Hugh Russell

As disturbing details of what was uncovered at Dunmurry Manor were read aloud yesterday by the older people's commissioner, families quietly wept and clasped hands.

There were gasps in the city centre function room as those assembled heard of one elderly woman enduring the excruciating pain of bed sores that went 'down to the bone' and how many were deprived of painkilling medication.

Karen McVicker described how her late mother Helen Bell (72), a dementia patient, was "shaking uncontrollably" with pain after a nurse failed to give her prescribed morphine for the infected bed sore she was suffering - which was so bad it was "ungradeable" and to the bone.

"Within weeks of being admitted to home she had pneumonia and was admitted to hospital. She developed pressure sores and it was manageable but when she was sent back to the home she became much worse. The bed sore became infected with E-coli. By the time of her death, she was just four stone," Mrs McVicker said.

The late Helen Bell (72), a former resident of Dunmurry Manor Care Home, who suffered appalling neglect.

The Dunmurry woman contacted police and the case was sent to the Public Prosecution Service, but no charges were brought.

"What my mother experienced was appalling, there was no dignity - they even stopped washing her hair during her final months," she said.

"She was locked in a bedroom and left to die with no quality of life."

A group of three sisters, whose 88-year-old grandmother was sexually assaulted by a male resident, also spoke quietly of their devastation at "receiving a call from a manager with a brief message" and the appalling handling of the case.

They did not wish to name their grandmother, who is still alive, but said the abuse has taken a "huge emotional toll" on her and the entire family.

Julie Ann McNally at yesterday's press conference in Dunmurry Manor Care Home. Picture by Hugh Russell

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