Northern Ireland

Co Tyrone nursing home receives closure order for second time following patient care failings

The Valley Nursing Home in Co Tyrone has received a second legal order to close by the regulator due to concerns about care standards
The Valley Nursing Home in Co Tyrone has received a second legal order to close by the regulator due to concerns about care standards

A CO TYRONE nursing home has been ordered to close for the second time in a year by the health watchdog following "significant concerns" about patient care and management failings.

Valley Nursing Home in Clogher received a notice from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) after an unannounced inspection last month revealed a litany of breaches that left vulnerable residents exposed to serious risk, including access to "dangerous chemicals" and poor fire safety controls.

Inspectors singled out lapses in "prioritising dignity", with "multiple examples" including residents forced to share poor quality clothes and sleep in stained bed sheets with no curtains. In one instance, they found a resident "inadequately attired and fully visible to anyone using the car park".

"Conflicting information" was discovered in patient records, with "no clear system" in place to ensure risk assessements and care plans were reviewed.

A total of 53 residents with specialist needs live in the facility. Southern and Western health trust officials have contacted their families to inform them of the regulator's decision to cancel the owners' registration.

There will be a 28-day period to appeal the order by the home's owners, MPS Limited.

The move comes after the same legal notice was placed last December, when the RQIA's former chief executive Olive Macleod said the home "was one of the worst we have seen in Northern Ireland".

A private company, Healthcare Ireland, agreed to temporarily take over its management in February to allow the facility to remain open.

In a statement, the company said it had made huge improvements that were reflected in an inspection in June but added their staff were seriously impacted by coranvirus related absences.

On the day of the October inspection, 20 of the home's core 70 workers were absent, either having tested positive for Covid or self-isolating.

A spokeswoman for Healthcare Ireland expressed their disappointment and said they took their obligations "extremely seriously".

"During the October inspection there was an unusually high proportion of agency staff who were unfamiliar with the home. This is an inevitable but unfortunate consequence of the staff shortages which are being felt at the current time throughout the nursing and care home sector," she said.

"Immediately following the inspection, we took action to address all of the issues raised on the day. Healthcare Ireland wish to assure residents and their families that the measures to ensure their health and safety have been prioritised and are being fully addressed."

The Health and Social Care Board last night said the "continued well-being" of residents will be the priority "should any future move to alternative care arrangements be needed".

"The Board is working closely with colleagues in health trusts and the RQIA to ensure that there is regional and local coordination in managing this process," a spokeswoman said.

"We recognise this is an unsettling time for those that live at the Valley and will work with them and their families to support them over the coming weeks and months."

A RQIA spokesman said it had identified "significant concerns relating to the fitness and safety of the premises, patient care and management oversight at this home".

"We have issued a notice of proposal to cancel the registration of the responsible individual for Healthcare Ireland Belfast Limited in respect of this home. The safety and wellbeing of all those living in Valley Nursing Home is of paramount importance and we continue to monitor this service through our ongoing regulatory activities."