Northern Ireland

Family call for Owenvale Court care home to be closed

Kathleen Fegan
Image caption Kathleen Fegan died after a fire broke out in Owenvale Court care home

The granddaughter of an 81-year-old woman who died in a fire in a care home in west Belfast last month has called for it to be closed.

Kathleen Fegan died after a blaze broke out at Owenvale Court on 10 April.

The home is at the centre of an RQIA investigation, which has threatened to de-register the provider because of concerns over the standard of care.

The care provider, the St John of God Association, said it was working to address the RQIA's concerns.

Mrs Fegan's granddaughter, Nicci Reid, said the home was not safe and should be closed down.

Ms Reid said that on the day before the fire, the family had decided to move the pensioner out of Owenvale Court because they were unhappy at the standard of care she was receiving.


She described how on 9 April, she arrived at the home to collect her grandmother to take her home for Easter Sunday dinner.

She said when she found Mrs Fegan in her room, she had soiled herself and been sick.

Ms Reid said that she asked staff for an explanation and was told that her grandmother had been suffering from a stomach bug.

She told BBC Newsline that she took her grandmother home and washed her, and at that point made the decision to move her to another care home, but "never got the chance".

Image caption Nicci Reid called for Owenvale Court to be closed down

The pensioner was critically injured when the fire broke out in a bathroom at the home on Easter Monday night and died a few hours later in hospital.

Ms Reid, who was the pensioner's next-of-kin, said: "The place needs closed down, it's not safe and if it takes my granny's death for them to see that then, I mean, if it saves somebody's life then so be it."


Owenvale Court on the Springfield Road provides care to 47 elderly residents.

The home is owned by Helm Housing but is run by a charity, the St John of God Association.

Responding to the comments made by Mrs Fegan's family, Sharon Balmaine, administrative manager for the St John of God Association, admitted that mistakes had been made.

"We certainly acknowlege all of that; we've hear very distressing stories over the past few days and it has been quite upsetting for the residents within the home and for the organisation," she told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme.

She added that the charity had "managed the home for the past ten years without incident" but accepted that they had "struggled with the management of the home".

Ms Balmaine said the association accepted that "protocols were not followed, we have made mistakes and we have to address those".

She said the majority of the concerns that had been raised by the RQIA have been successfully addressed.

However she said: "We have come to the realisation that we cannot provide stable management within the home, therefore we are looking for an alternative care provider to do that and to do justice to the care that needs to be provided to the residents who live there."


Ms Balmaine offered to meet the Fegan family to discuss any unanswered questions they might have about the pensioner's death.

Image caption The RQIA has identified a number of concerns about standards of care at Owenvale Court

Earlier this week, the regulator, the RQIA said it had identified a range of concerns about how the St John of God Association was carrying out its work.

These included: the quality of care delivery; management of medicines; safeguarding vulnerable adults; risk management; staff levels, competence and training; record keeping; statutory notifications; and management at the home.

The RQIA issued a series of notices of failure to comply with residential care home regulations and placed conditions on the registration of the service, including ceasing new admissions to Owenvale Court.

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