Dunmurry Manor scandal: Council seeks answers over ‘dreadful catalogue of events’

Dunmurry Manor care home.
Dunmurry Manor care home.

The “dreadful catalogue of events” that took place at Dunmurry Manor care home must never be allowed to happen again.

That was the message from the Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council after a special meeting convened by the local authority yesterday to discuss the findings of the ‘Home Truths’ report, which highlighted serious failings in standards of care at the Runwood Homes-owned facility.

Councillors discussed the disturbing findings of the report and agreed to request a meeting with Runwood Homes and several key agencies as they seek answers about the treatment of vulnerable residents at the Seymour Hill facility.

Home Truths, drawn up by Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Older People after concerns were raised by residents’ families and whistleblowers back in 2016, found evidence that some residents of Dunmurry Manor had been subjected to “a horrific catalogue of inhuman and degrading treatment, with many spending their last few months living in appalling circumstances.”

Commissioner Eddie Lynch said there were “significant failures in the safeguarding and care of many residents in Dunmurry Manor, with residents suffering harm through physical and sexual assaults.”

Some of his findings have been disputed by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), which carried out a number of inspections at the home. It said there was “no evidence of institutional abuse”.

At their meeting yesterday, local councillors discussed the findings of the Home Truths report and agreed to extend an invitation to the RQIA, the Commissioner for Older People, the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, the PSNI and Runwood Homes to attend a future meeting of the full council.

“It is hard to find the words for the suffering, along with untold distress caused to patients and families and the appalling lack of dignity to which vulnerable people were subjected,” said Mayor Uel Mackin.

“The Home Truths report makes you both very sad and terribly angry. Accountability must now prevail, and the report’s findings and recommendations must be addressed to ensure that this dreadful catalogue of events never happens again.”

He added: “Many of us have older parents and relatives and we have the right to expect the very best care for family members who are no longer able to look after themselves. Yet this was far removed from the findings of the Home Truths report in which you can feel the human tragedy and the misery. We will be looking to the statutory bodies responsible for healthcare, public funds allocation and regulation issues to speak with this council.”

Cllr Nathan Anderson, chairman of the council’s Corporate Services Committee, commented: “The statutory bodies involved in providing and supervising care for the elderly have a responsibility to listen to the views of elected members who represent the local electorate.

“The organisations are also accountable to ratepayers and have a duty to account for management procedures and decision-making. The report was published a week ago, and it is necessary for the authorities to provide some clarity on the way forward including how the many recommendations are to be addressed.

“As public representatives, we must speak out to the statutory bodies and I hope other public authorities do likewise. Strong leadership is now required.”

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