Dunmurry Manor: Commissioner for Older People launches fresh investigation
The Commissioner for Older People has begun an investigation into a care home on the outskirts of Belfast.
In an unprecedented move Commissioner Eddie Lynch has decided to use his legal powers to look into care standards at the Dunmurry Manor home.
It follows an investigation by the South Eastern Trust in December, after concerns were raised by family members and former employees.
New admissions to the 76-bed home have since been suspended.
The commissioner will investigate not just the activities at the home, but also the response of the relevant authorities, including the health trusts involved and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).
Speaking about the investigation, Mr Lynch said: "Family members have made complaints to me about the care that their relatives received in Dunmurry Manor.
"I have also heard, from former employees, that the care and protection of older people in the home was below acceptable standards and in some cases, caused harm to frail older people."
'Compliance not achieved'
Since opening in 2014, the home on Rowan Hill, Dunmurry, has received a number of notifications from the RQIA and health trusts about inadequate standards of care.
It received three failure to comply notices in October, but at the end of January, Mr Lynch said, "compliance had still not been achieved".
"I am deeply concerned about allegations of serious failures of care at Dunmurry Manor and this has led me to carry out a full investigation under my legal powers," he said.
"Health authorities have been monitoring this care home and raising concerns since it opened in 2014. More than two years later, older people are living in a home that is failing to comply with minimum standards of care."
Mr Lynch said his investigation will examine the care, treatment and experience of older people living in the home, including "an examination of the actions of all those responsible for the commissioning, provision, monitoring and regulation of the care services provided" at it since it opened.
"I am aware of some excellent care in nursing homes across Northern Ireland and I don't want to cause unnecessary alarm to older people and their families," he added.
"However, when I detect that there are areas of serious concern in terms of care for older people, I must act immediately and ensure that older people are protected from harm."
The investigation is expected to take between three and four months to complete.
To ensure that it is as thorough and independent as possible, expert advisors in nursing care, safeguarding and human rights have been appointed.
The panel will provide scrutiny, advice and guidance throughout the investigation.
The commissioner said he will not comment on the investigation while it is active.
A report into its findings with recommendations is expected to be released in June.