Commissioner’s ‘deep concerns’ after inspection at ‘yet another’ Runwood care home

The entrance to Kintullagh Care Home in Ballymena
The entrance to Kintullagh Care Home in Ballymena

The commissioner for older people has said he is “deeply concerned” after “yet another” facility operated by a troubled care home company was found to be failing minimum standards.

Eddie Lynch was speaking after the company Runwood Homes was called to a meeting with Northern Ireland’s health regulators to address concerns surrounding Kintullagh Care Home in Ballymena.

An unannounced inspection in October found that there weren’t enough staff at the home to meet patients’ needs.

It is the latest in a series of issues uncovered at homes operated by Runwood.

An investigation lasting over a year by Mr Lynch into one of its homes near Belfast, Dunmurry Manor, identified in July a “horrific catalogue of inhuman and degrading treatment, with many spending their last few months living in appalling circumstances”.

Another Runwood home, Ashbrooke care home in Enniskillen, was closed down entirely in August 2017 by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) after inspectors identified a “threat to the life” of those living there.

There have been a host of other run-ins with regulators over the period since Ashbrooke was closed down.

In October, suspensions imposed on three of its homes – Glenabbey Manor in Glengormley, Clifton Nursing Home in Belfast and Rose Court in Ballymena – were lifted after inspectors said the standards had improved enough to allow new residents to be admitted.

Following the concerns raised about staffing levels at Kintullagh care home in Ballymena, Mr Lynch said: “I am deeply concerned to hear of yet another instance at Runwood Homes where various aspects of the quality of care have been found to be below standard.”

He added: “I would expect RQIA to carry out the follow up to this inspection process with appropriate due diligence, ensuring that the recommendations outlined in the report are completed by Kintullagh Care Home within the proposed timescales.”

A spokesperson for Runwood Homes said: “A further unannounced inspection on 18th December 2018 deemed the home to be fully compliant and zero areas for improvement confirmed. This is a very positive outcome and demonstrates the home’s determination to ensure care standards are set high and maintained.

“The service continues to offer quality-based nursing care.”