'Multiple vulnerable residents died' in aftermath of being moved from nursing home

Tanya Fowles

MULTIPLE vulnerable residents died in the “immediate aftermath” of being moved from the Valley Nursing Home, which was ordered to close during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The disclosure was made during a meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council where it further emerged some residents were transferred to facilities with confirmed outbreaks of the virus.

The Clogher facility closed when the management company, Healthcare Ireland, was deemed unfit to operate, following an unannounced RQIA inspection in October, 2020. It was home to 53 residents at the time.

Significant concerns were identified around management of Covid guidance, infection prevention and control, fire safety, care delivery and records, mandatory training, lack of stimulation for residents, control of hazardous substances, staff interaction with patients, and managerial oversight and governance.

RQIA found a lack of regard for patients’ safety, dignity and human rights, including the quality and availability of clothing.

The home did not provide a therapeutic environment, alongside a notable lack of effort to engage residents in meaningful activity.

The Health and Social Care Trusts and the Department of Health were notified of the decision to issue a notice to cancel the facility’s registration.

Independent councillor Donal O’Cofaigh said RQIA was closely involved in the closure, and “with no move to nationalise to keep it open, residents were moved elsewhere”.

"Of those, 14 died in the immediate aftermath. Six who had already been moved within the Western Trust area, also died," he said.

"Some residents without Covid were moved to other care homes, two of which had active outbreaks. A doctor associated with the residents was never informed or involved."

A Southern Trust spokesperson said: "All infection, prevention and control guidance was followed. Trust staff liaised directly with residents and their families, supporting them as appropriate throughout the transition. The trust continues to keep the care of all residents under close review. Both residents and families are aware they can address any concerns with us directly."

The Western Trust gave an almost identical response.

An RQIA spokesperson confirmed that due to significant regulation breaches, a notice of proposal to cancel registration was issued to care provider.

The spokesperson added: “Following deregistration, a review was conducted, to ensure lessons learned from this closure were taken on board for similar situations in the future."

The Department of Health said: "It’s always regrettable where action has to be taken to close a care home due to the provider failing to maintain care standards required to ensure the safety and well-being of residents. The department fully appreciates the upset and stress caused to families and former residents of the Valley Nursing Home."