Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Woman distraught over care home relocation

Clifton Nursing Hone Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Concerns have been raised about Clifton Nursing Home's handling of a Covid-19 outbreak

A woman whose father is being moved from a north Belfast care home has said she is "distraught" about the situation.

Residents are to be relocated from Clifton Nursing Home following recent inspections by the care home regulator, the RQIA.

Concerns have been raised about the home's handling of a Covid-19 outbreak.

It is understood about 80 residents are still in the home. They are due to be assessed from Tuesday.

Belfast Health Trust said it is unlikely any of the residents will be moved for at least a week.

It also said senior staff are manning a hotline for relatives and residents at the home. It was in operation until 22:00 BST on Friday and will be open from 09:00 until 17:00 every day this bank holiday weekend.

'We've no answers'

Lorraine Blackadder has not seen her 87-year-old father David Hutton - who has dementia - for eight weeks.

"Distraught wouldn't even cover it," Mrs Blackadder said.

"My dad is so confused anyway and to have this happen and the idea of him having to pack up his belongings without us there and having to move out of his wee room to somewhere else completely strange."

She said although her dad was unsettled and confused because of his dementia he "loved a wee bit of banter" with the staff who, she said, "were lovely and always very helpful".

"What happens to them?" she said.

"Do they go with him or does he go on his own? We've no answers to any of these questions it's so, so upsetting."

'Unbelievable'

Mrs Blackadder added: "You would like some information.

"The fact that they just announced this on the news and I've seen that some people on Facebook didn't even get a phone call - they were watching the news and saw it and that is just unbelievable for such a major thing.

"You're always worried about Covid anyway in nursing homes and for this to happen, and your relatives have to be moved without as much as a piece of information, is just beyond belief."

Image caption Northern Ireland's Commissioner for Older People said families must be given clear details

The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch, has said he is "deeply concerned" about the situation.

"The immediate focus has to be on doing what is best for the residents in the home," Mr Lynch said.

"Families must be provided with clear details of the situation and be involved in any decision made to move their loved one from the home."

Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, Carál Ní Chuilin, said it was "regrettable" that residents were being relocated from Clifton Nursing Home, but added that the move is "absolutely necessary to ensure that our elderly and vulnerable are looked after and receive the highest level of care".

"The Belfast Trust must ensure that residents and their families are kept fully informed during the relocation process," she said.

"I welcome their intervention and this will provide reassurance to the relatives of the residents."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Robin Swann said action would be taken if a home's response to Covid-19 was deemed inadequate

A daughter of a resident told BBC News NI she did not want her elderly mother moved.

"I have never, in the year she has been there, had any issue with the care my mother received in the home," she said.

"To move at this point quite frankly would be detrimental to her health. At 92 she probably doesn't need this either," she added.

On Friday, Health Minister Robin Swann said the relocation was being handled in consultation with residents and their families.

"Given the current situation facing care homes with Covid-19, decisive action is essential," he said.

"The concerns about the home relate in part to its management of a Covid-19 outbreak."

The Department of Health said it had ongoing concerns for some time about the home, which is operated by Runwood Homes.

The BBC has contacted Runwood Homes for comment.

An RQIA inspection of the home in March of this year observed that "infection prevention and control (IPC) issues identified at the last inspection had not been satisfactorily resolved in all areas of the home".

Death numbers falling

On Friday, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra) reported that, for the second week in a row, coronavirus-related deaths in care homes had fallen.

In the week to 15 May, there were 32 deaths in care homes, a fall from 38 the previous week, Nisra reported.

Almost half of the deaths Nisra has recorded in Northern Ireland have happened in care homes

The health minister said: "It needs to be stressed that a large majority of care homes in Northern Ireland do not have Covid-19 outbreaks.

"Where homes do have outbreaks, they are working closely with trusts, the Public Health Agency and RQIA to appropriately manage the situation.

Referring to the relocation at Clifton Nursing Home, Mr Swann continued: "If a home's response is inadequate, action will be taken - as has happened in this case."

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