Care home abuse findings 'disturbing'

Published Wednesday, 26 February 2014
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Investigations have been carried out by the Western Trust and the PSNI into alleged abuse at a care home in Londonderry.

Care home abuse findings 'disturbing'
The investigation examined allegations of abuse against residents. (© Getty)

It comes after anonymous claims were made about staff at the Ralph's Close home for vulnerable adults in July 2012, suggesting some residents had been mistreated.

Several members of staff were suspended during the inquiry.

Health Minister Edwin Poots of the DUP said the investigations are now complete and found that, on the balance of probabilities, abuse was perpetrated.

He described the findings as "disturbing".

"The Trust's report has concluded that, on the balance of probability, there has been abuse perpetrated by a number of staff in Ralphs Close over a period of time," Mr Poots said.

"The nature and type of abuse includes physical and psychological abuse and neglect by omission. Over 50% of allegations made have been substantiated and, on the basis of these findings, disciplinary proceedings are now progressing as well as investigations by the relevant regulatory bodies."

The minister added that the PSNI had concluded that in the absence of witness evidence, it was unlikely the burden of proof threshold required for a court of law would be met.

A PSNI statement said: "Police have concluded their investigation and after seeking prosecutorial advice no further action will be taken."

The Western Trust said that its staff "continue to meet the families concerned and have apologised to them for any distress caused to their family members resident in the home."

A statement from the Trust said that the Adult Safeguarding Team has carried out a rigorous investigation and have identified nineteen recommendations.

"Trust Board accepts and endorses these recommendations. Following the allegations in 2012 a service improvement plan was put in place at the home and many of the recommendations from the Adult Safeguarding report have already been actioned and the remainder are in progress," the statement continued.

"The regulatory authority RQIA carried out an unannounced inspection of the facility in February 2014. The draft report from that inspection has indicated positive changes in both the working practices and culture at the home and is further evidence of the continuing improvements being made.

"The completion of the Adult Safeguarding Investigation is an integral part to an ongoing process of review. The Trust would like to assure the families and the general public that it is committed to providing high quality dignified care and continuous improvement of this service."

Local MLA Pat Ramsey of the SDLP said he was "shocked" by the findings.

He continued: "To hear that 22 of the original 45 allegations of abuse have been substantiated - regardless of whatever category of abuse they fall into - is shocking and disturbing.

"That five of the 22 were judged to be intentional physical abuse, and that these occurred over a two-year period is sickening.

"Families of residents in Ralph's Close placed their faith and trust in the health system. They believed their loved ones were being cared for with compassion and dignity in a secure and safe environment; where they would come to no harm, but the system has failed them.

"The full scale of the investigation has resulted in 19 recommendations, and it is encouraging to hear that an unannounced inspection earlier this month underpins service improvement.

"However, the Trust must ensure that this heartbreaking and appalling episode is never repeated, and live up to its duty and expectation that those in its care must be protected."

© UTV News
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1 Comments
culchy in the stix wrote (236 days ago):
Once again the system lets down those it was set up to protect and no prosecutions.
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