Care Home Abuse Claims: Mum Calls For An Inquiry

The mother of a young girl at the centre of abuse allegations at a Barnardo’s care home last night backed calls for social care watchdogs to investigate the injuries suffered by her daughter.

The woman’s teenage girl is believed to have suffered severe injuries while in respite care at the charity’s Cherry Lodge facility in Randalstown exactly a year ago. Speaking out for the first time about her daughter’s case, the worried mum told Sunday Life: “I would have great difficulty in accepting that anyone involved in what happened to my daughter would be working with children again.”

Her daughter, who has severe learning difficulties, suffered serious injuries to both her arms in an alleged incident in June last year which was probed by police. Earlier this year a police spokesman told Sunday Life: “Police are carrying out an investigation into an allegation of physical abuse at a respite facility in Co Antrim. The investigation has been carried out with the assistance of social services.”

That investigation has since been completed and a file is currently with the Public Prosecution Service. At the time a spokesman for Barnardo’s said: “We can confirm that there is a police investigation into allegations of injuries to a young person who used this service. As this is an ongoing police investigation, we will not be commenting further.”

Parents who use the facility have raised concerns that no internal action has been taken against any staff at Cherry Lodge in relation to the allegations. And although the home was forced to close its doors in January, some parents are concerned that when Cherry Lodge re-opens again soon, people who may have been involved in an incident that led to the girl’s injuries will be looking after vulnerable children again.

The mother, who did not want her identity published at this stage, added: ” I would hate to see any other vulnerable children suffering injuries like those suffered by my daughter. It seems that the Social Care Council is the only body that can do anything to prevent the risk of this happening and I have to call on it to act immediately.”

The Northern Ireland Social Care Council has already been asked to take precautionary action against a number of staff who may have had involvement in any incident that resulted in the girl’s injuries.

Dermod Ryder, whose own daughter Katie has used Cherry Lodge – and who is also the subject of separate complaints surrounding care issues – wrote to the NISCC demanding that steps are taken to prevent any member of staff who may have been involved in the incident being allowed back to work at the facility when it re-opens. He said: “The risk that a person who could do something like that coming into contact with our daughter is too great.”

NISCC chief executive Brendan Johnston confirmed that it was currently investigating the incident, and was aware of both the Regulation Quality Improvement Authority’s own investigation and the police probe into the same matter. “We are pulling together what evidence we can so that if there are people responsible, they are held to account,” he said.