Shocking self-harm video reveals Colm needs better care, says family

The mother of a severely disabled man has warned he may do permanent damage to himself if an urgent review into his care is not carried out.

The family of Colm McGuinness claims staffing levels and training at the care facility where he lives are inadequate to deal with his specific needs.

They have also said that his medication needs to be re-examined. The 24-year-old, from Greysteel in Co Londonderry, suffers from cerebral palsy and has severe learning and behavioural disabilities which cause him to violently self-harm.

The family filmed a shocking video of his behaviour a few months ago during one of their daily visits. The graphic footage shows Colm violently banging his head off furniture and walls at his bedroom at the facility.

They have also claimed that they have had to wipe his blood off the walls on several occasions while visiting him at the Ralphs Close residential care home in the Gransha area of the Waterside.

The family said they had absolutely no problem with the staff who work with Colm, but alleged that management were not taking their concerns on board following numerous meetings.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust, which runs the Ralphs Close facility, said it did not comment on individual cases.

A spokeswoman said: “Respecting confidentiality, the trust cannot comment on individual patient treatment and care.”

Over recent months Ralphs Close has been issued with five ‘failure to comply’ notices following inspections by the health watchdog, the Regulations and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

Staffing issues were raised during several inspections, but an extended deadline granted to the trust to rectify these issues has now been met.

By the most recent inspection in the latter half of October, all five notices in relation to Ralphs Close had been complied with.

However, Colm’s mother, Theresa McGuinness, raised fresh concerns on Monday that Colm was not being adequately cared for.

She said Colm had sustained no injuries during the 18 years he had been cared for at home but that he had unexplained injuries at his previous residential care at Lakeview Hospital, before being transferred to Ralphs Close 18 months ago.

The family on Monday showed pictures allegedly showing injuries Colm sustained while a resident at Lakeview.

Speaking about his current care at Ralphs Close, Mrs McGuinness said: “We have very severe concerns with what’s going on with Colm in the unit.”

Colm’s sister Laura O’Flaherty added: “This is a matter of life and death now for my brother. There is only so much his body will take.”

His family said they are looking into taking legal advice. In a separate statement, the Western Trust confirmed on Monday that it was informed by RQIA on October 25 that the fifth and final failure to comply notice regarding staff training, supervision and appraisal at Ralphs Close had been lifted.

A spokeswoman said: “RQIA undertook the review in August 2012 on the Western Trust’s safeguarding arrangement for Ralphs Close.

“The review highlights 13 recommendations in respect of the safeguarding arrangements at the facility.

“The trust acted promptly and took immediate and appropriate action to address the recommendations as soon as they were highlighted by RQIA.

“Twelve of the recommendations are now in place and the trust has started a procurement process for the final recommendation regarding the establishment of an advocacy service.

“The trust is confident that it is providing a service which meets the regulatory requirements and the health and social care needs of the adults at the facility.”

She added: “The trust also continues to keep families who have relatives at Ralphs Close informed through their dedicated care managers.”

Distressing footage that’s truly heartbreaking to watch

The video of severely autistic Colm McGuinness’s behaviour in Ralphs Close is at first only disturbing as he paces back and forward in his room.

Colm is holding a packet of sweets which he concentrates on as he paces. A relative filming him on a mobile phone can be heard praising him.

Then without warning Colm starts to slap his hands off a television table top, making a loud bang with each blow.

His female visitor warns him that someone will be down to him, but the result is even worse as he starts to bang his head off the table with a sickening thud.

He then reels and bangs his head off a wall and then a wardobe, each blow making another bone-like crunch.

In another segment of video, Colm is sitting on his bed banging his head off the wall behind him before getting up and slamming his head into the chest of drawers. He resumes the previous pattern of then reeling off to ram his head into the wardrobe, as his relatives beg him to stop.

The film closes with Colm still reeling around the room battering his body off any object in his path, in one of the most stomach-churning pieces of footage you are ever likely to see.