Northern Ireland

Elderly dementia patient 'treated like commodity'

Fran Ferson
Image caption Fran Ferson's father was refused entry back in to the Milesian Manor in Magherafelt after a hospital stay

The family of an 86-year-old man with dementia say a badly handled move between care homes had temporarily "left him homeless".

Fran Ferson says her father was treated like "a commodity" by his care home - Milesian Manor in Magherafelt, county Londonderry.

He was refused entry back into the home following a one-night stay in hospital.

Milesian Manor says it deeply regrets the situation.

At the beginning of April, the elderly man's family were told that Milesian Manor was no longer suitable for their father as they were moving to a new building and would be unable to provide a nursing care bed in a secure unit with a locked door.

The 86-year-old, whose daughter does not want him to be identified, fell ill two days after the the family were informed of the development.

Ms Ferson says her father spent one night in Antrim Area Hospital for tests and the next day, while waiting for an ambulance to bring him home, Milesian Manor informed her that they would not be able to let him back in.

Image caption Ms Ferson's father spent one night in Antrim Area Hospital

"First thing on Thursday morning, while my daddy and sister were waiting for an ambulance to bring him back to Milesian Manor, I received a phone call from the regional manager to say that daddy's needs could no longer be met and they were not allowing him back in to the old building that he had just left.

"So obviously, as you can imagine, chaos broke loose at that stage."

Ms Ferson said she "could not believe what [she] was hearing".

She added: "I actually, initially had to ask her to repeat herself a couple of times.

"But then the penny dropped that she was actually saying: 'No, we are not letting him through the doors today.'

"So they essentially left him homeless."

While the man waited at Antrim Area Hospital, the Northern Health Trust, which has responsibility for his placement, was made aware of the situation.

After an anxious wait, a new nursing home was eventually found later that day.

Ms Ferson says the move has had a lasting impact on her father.

"[He was] very anxious because he knew there was something going on and we couldn't tell him what was going so he knew there were things going on behind the scenes, which was very upsetting for him and then he arrived somewhere completely different..... It took him quite a few days to settle in."

In a statement, the Management of Milesian Manor Nursing Home said it deeply regretted the situation and any distress caused.

"Although we could offer this resident a place in the new home it was unsuitable. Expert advice from the Northern Trust, who make the final decision, was that a nursing care bed in a secure unit with a locked door was the best type of care suited to this resident, which we were unable to provide in the new home," Milesian said.

"Milesian Manor offers respite, temporary or permanent placement based on needs assessments by the Trust. While responsibility for communicating such assessments rests with the Trust we also did everything to communicate directly with the family within the limitations of our contractual arrangements with the Trust."

It added that senior members of the nursing home had been in contact with a family representative and had "provided a detailed review of the circumstances and a heartfelt apology".

"The Trust have told the family that "it was regrettable that your father's transfer was progressed under these circumstances.

"However, I wish to assure you that our priority was to access a suitable placement for your father."

The family were not given a choice over their father's move, however they are happy with his new care home.

Ms Ferson and her family say they hope lessons are learned from their father's case and that no other families have to endure a similar situation.