Northern Ireland news

Threatened closure looming for Co Tyrone nursing home as operators decide against appealing regulator's decision

The Valley Nursing Home in Co Tyrone is under threat of closure
Seanín Graham

FEARS are growing for the future of a Co Tyrone nursing home after management revealed they will not appeal a legal order to close it down.

Valley Nursing Home in Clogher received a notice from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) earlier this month due to "significant concerns" about patient care and management failings.

It was the second time in a year the watchdog order was issued and despite major improvements in the summer, an unannounced inspection in October found a litany of breaches which owners linked to the impact of Covid on staffing levels.

Healthcare Ireland agreed to temporarily take over the home's management in February and was given 28 days to appeal the RQIA notice, allowing it to remain open.

The deadline lapses on December 2, after which a further 28 days is allowed before a decision is reached by the regulator on "de-registering" the provider/owner - leading to closure.

The Irish News has learned around 10 vulnerable residents were transferred from Valley to other accommodation by the Southern and Western health trusts in recent weeks, with 42 remaining on Friday.

Some families have been left distraught and sought legal action in the hope of allowing the facility to remain open.

However, a Healthcare Ireland spokeswoman confirmed that while they have provided assurances to remain as managers until "next steps are agreed", they "do not intend to appeal the RQIA''s proposal".

"We appreciate that this will be worrying for families and this may be upsetting and disruptive for residents," she said.

"We are working collaboratively with health trusts to ensure the continuity of care and ongoing wellbeing of the residents of Valley Nursing Home.

"The staff, who are employed under contract with the owner, MPS, have also been assured that they will have our ongoing support at this uncertain time."

Solicitor Kevin Winters, who is representing a resident, said the closure will have an "enormous detrimental impact" and add "untold stress" to families.

"We are now taking steps to try and facilitate further time for all parties engaged to work out a solution," he said.

"We hope to buy some more valuable time to present a life line to continued existence of the home."

A spokeswoman for the Health and Social Care Board said trust staff are having "daily contact" with the home and supporting those considering transferring to "alternative accommodation in coming weeks".

"We recognise that this is a very unsettling time...We will continue to work with residents and their families over coming weeks until a definitive decision about the future of the home is made," she added.

In a statement the RQIA said it was not in a position to comment, as the provider has a "right to make representation" before next week's deadline.

"We are working with other agencies...to protect the interests of patients and the ensure the best possible care.”

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