Owen Mor: Concerns raised before new admissions closure

The Owen Mor care home
Image caption The care home closed to new admissions last year following failed inspections by the watchdog

Councillors have questioned why concerns about a Londonderry nursing home were not acted upon sooner.

Owen Mor nursing home was closed to new admissions after an inspection in May 2019.

The home was then deemed to have met Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) standards in November.

A special sitting of Derry and Strabane District Council's health committee on Monday heard concerns were raised months before inspectors took action.

Councillors questioned RQIA chief executive Olive Macleod on when the health watchdog was first made aware of concerns about the home - an 81-place facility for people with learning difficulties, mental health issues and dementia.

Image copyright Google Maps
Image caption An inspection in May 2019 found patients were missing medicines, nurses not following procedures and inadequate record keeping

SDLP councillor Brian Tierney said he was aware complaints were made in September 2018.

He said at that time SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, now the Foyle MP, had written to the RQIA about standards at the home.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Tierney told BBC Radio Foyle that action could have been taken sooner.

"The RQIA outlined they didn't visit the home until November 2018 and did not take action until May 2019," he said.

"I just don't think it is good enough that they didn't act quicker," he added.

Owen Mor timeline

The home was put under failure to comply in May 2019 by the RQIA.

The investigation found patients missing medicines, nurses not following procedures and inadequate record keeping.

After a follow-up inspection in August, the regulator stopped new patient admissions after obtaining a court order.

It was revealed, despite being under a failure to comply order, Owen Mor had still been admitting patients.

In November, the home was deemed to have met the required standard by the RQIA and was allowed to re-admit new patients.

Owen Mor could recommence admissions on a phased basis and submit weekly reports to the RQIA of new admissions.

Earlier Ms Macleod told the committee the RQIA had no substantial concerns before they issued the home with an enforcement order following the inspection in May 2019.

Before that inspection there was "nothing unduly concerning" about care at the home, Ms McLeod said.

Ms McLeod added two unannounced inspections had been carried out at Owen Mor since the enforcement order was lifted in November, with a further inspection due to take place shortly.

Owen Mor management had been invited to address the committee but did not attend.

In a statement to the BBC, Dr Una McDonald, a spokesperson for Owen Mor, apologised for not being able to make the council meeting due to work commitments.

She said the home had achieved compliance with RQIA standards and the centre was now full reopened to new admissions.

She also invited councillors to meet her and the new management team.

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