Northern Ireland news

Daughter tells of 'shock' as mum (92) faces care home move

Clifton Nursing Home in Belfast
Mairead Holland

A WOMAN whose 92-year-old mother faces being moved from her care home in north Belfast over "ongoing concerns" said the announcement had come as the "biggest shock".

Alison Wilson said she didn't know anything about the closure of Clifton Nursing Home until Friday night when she heard it on BBC news, adding she was "very, very annoyed".

Her mother, Kate Matthews, who has complex dementia needs, has been in the home for a year where she is "very settled".

Health Minister Robin Swann said the planned relocation related partly to the management of a Covid-19 outbreak.

A recent watchdog inspection prompted an urgent intervention at the 100-bed nursing home.

Mrs Wilson said that during the past year she had never had any concerns whatsoever about her mother's care, describing staff as "excellent".

Read More: Robin Swann knew of Clifton Nursing Home fears last month

"I don't want my mum upset and I don't want her moved," she said. "We are in the middle of a pandemic. Why would you move a patient who has tested negative for Covid, who has dementia and who is well looked after?

"I don't understand why you wouldn't bring in measures to change whatever the problem is rather than moving all these vulnerable people out.

"Mum wasn't in very good shape when she went into the home but they worked with her and settled her. The staff even used their own mobile phones so I could FaceTime her. Mum used to be a nurse. She would have told me if the care wasn't good."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a number of families, whose relatives have died at the home, have sought legal advice.

A spokeswoman for Belfast-based KRW Law said one of the families is that of an elderly man who died from Covid-19-related symptoms.

The family had sought assurances from the home after discovering that a patient suffering from the virus had been moved in directly from hospital.

In a statement, the law firm said: "But within days, their relative tested positive for Covid-19 and he died a short time later. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated example."

Solicitor Kevin Winters said: "We understand RQIA (Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority) raised concerns repeatedly about this home and had issued a series of enforcement actions which resulted in failure to comply notices."

SDLP Oldpark councillor Paul McCusker said he had met with more than 20 members of staff, some of whom had given "highly distressing" accounts of unsuccessfully raising issues with management, including access to PPE and serious concerns relating to Covid-19.

“I have also been in touch with families of residents who are rightly furious about the lack of communication with them about the severity of this crisis," he added.


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