Northern Ireland

Wait for residents after Ashbrooke Care Home closure

Ashbrooke Care Home
Image caption Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen is operated by Runwood Homes

Residents in a nursing home that was closed because conditions posed a "serious risk to life" will be re-homed in the next 10 days.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust said it was working with residents and families affected by the sudden closure of Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

It is understood 43 residents are waiting to be re-homed.

Regulators said it was the first time they had forced a home to close.

Conditions at Ashbrooke were described as the worst ever seen by regulators following an unannounced inspection last Wednesday.

Failings included dirty facilities, a strong odour of faeces and urine and no evidence of action taken to address substantial weight loss in some residents.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Runwood Homes said a previous unannounced inspection had found evidence of 'safe delivery of care'

Runwood Homes, the company that operates Ashbrooke, said it was not given any notification of the closure and that regulators had found no concerns at their other Northern Ireland homes.

"We as an organisation are deeply saddened by the decision to close Ashbrooke Care Home and will do all in our power to ensure the transition of our residents to their new homes is as seamless as possible," said the company.

At a meeting on Monday, relatives were told by the Western Health and Social Care Trust that residents could be moved to premises in Londonderry.

The trust said it would "work with residents and their families to manage the transition and find suitable accommodation that meets the resident's individual needs".

"The trust anticipates that all clients will be placed in suitable accommodation within the next 10 days."

Analysis: Louise Cullen, BBC News NI south-west reporter

Relatives I've been talking to have told me they've had sleepless nights worrying about where their family members are going to end up.

There seems to be a lot of anger and a lot of disappointment - some have said they're happy with the care provided and have questioned the closure of the home.

Others have wondered if there's a mechanism by which it could be kept open to avoid upheaval.

There are two main factors in re-homing - these are mostly people from the Fermanagh area, but they could be re-homed anywhere in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area, which includes Londonderry and Tyrone.

Another factor is that because most of the residents have a greater or lesser degree of dementia, they each need to be placed in homes that can provide them with the care they need.

Just how many of those kinds of places are available?

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle Gildernew said she would lead a party delegation to meet the Western Trust over the relocation of residents to "discuss what went wrong and how lessons learnt can ensure this never happens again".

"The emerging picture of neglect of vulnerable patients is both heartbreaking and infuriating.

She added: "The priority now is getting these people the care they deserve without adding to the stress of the situation."

Image caption Sinn Féin MLA Michelle Gildernew said the emerging picture at Ashbrooke is "heartbreaking and infuriating"

Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton said it appeared the Western Health and Social Care Trust had given "varying support" to relatives in its efforts to relocate relatives and that there was a "great deal of concern and worry".

"Some have received excellent support from social workers while other families have set about the task of finding new accommodation themselves, with only very limited support from the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

"However the residents of Ashbrooke must be relocated to safe new homes that are convenient and easily accessible for their relatives.

"The Western Trust must also take some responsibility for relocating the staff and making sure none are left without employment."

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