’29 Homes For Elderly Warned’

SOME 29 homes for elderly people in Northern Ireland have received written warnings from inspectors since 2005.

The ‘failure to comply’ notices are issued to such homes – as well as to children’s homes – where there are concerns about the quality of care, medicines, staffing or physical environment of the facilities.

Four of those homes received two separate written warnings, and the remaining 25 received one notice.

The revelation comes weeks after seven nurses working at the Orchard Manor old people’s home in Antrim were suspended because the Regulation and Quality Improvement Auth-ority (RQIA) believed they were in need of further training.

Orchard Manor was one of the four homes to get two notices.

The RQIA issued a written warning to the home at the beginning of July, when the Antrim facility was given until the end of this month to comply with nursing home regulations, which it has now done.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the News Letter showed that the Orchard Manor home had previously received a notice in March this year.

Another facility, Templemoyle Nursing Home in Eglinton, has also received two notices, the most recent of which has not yet been complied with, according to the figures.

And two other Belfast-based nursing homes – Greerville Manor Nursing Home and Mount Lens Nursing Home – have both been issued with two notices since 2005.

As well as the four homes which received two notices, 25 other old people’s nursing homes were also identified as having been issued with one failure to comply notice from the RQIA since 2005.

According to the watchdog, they inspect all care homes at least twice a year, and during the past year alone have carried out around 2,100 inspections to 563 residential care and children’s homes throughout the Province.

The facilities will be given notice of one visit, but the other will be unannounced – a spokesman said that it can take place at any time “day or night”, with no advance notice.

To date, the RQIA has not had to close any homes down.

A spokesman for the body said: “RQIA takes the issue of such notices very seriously and we have found that providers generally respond in a positive manner thus achieving significant improvements for the users of health and social care services in Northern Ireland.”

DUP MLA Ian McCrea said: “When elderly people take up residency in a care home it is reasonable to expect that they will be treated with dignity and respect, which is as it should be.”

The Mid Ulster Assemblyman, who said he had previously campaigned on the issue on behalf of constituents, said: “Public concern regarding the safety of community care homes can only be addressed through closer scrutiny.”

The RQIA, however, said it was confident about the level of scrutiny it afforded to homes.

“We carry out 2,000 inspections a year with quite an amount of rigour, and we don’t hesitate to issue failure to comply notices.