Only an independent inquiry will reveal truth of Co Tyrone nursing home closure, says relative

The brother of a resident at a care home in Co Tyrone that has been closed has called for an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding its closure.

On November 4, 2020, the Regulatory and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) issued a notice proposing to cancel the Valley Nursing Home’s care provider registration, citing serious concerns about the quality of care and the patient environment.

Action has been taken to move the 53 residents of the Clogher home to other facilities. However, it turned out that 20 died immediately after leaving the home, including an elderly man who received end-of-life care.

Gerry Cullen, who has lobbied for answers, said an independent investigation is needed because of concerns that a “Lessons Learned” review report is not reflecting the concerns of patients, relatives, staff and others since the closure was announced.

His brother Donal lived at Valley Nursing Home for eight years.

He said: “This report clearly reveals terrible working relationships between the RQIA, the Health Trusts, Healthcare Ireland and the homeowners, MPS Care. The closure of Valley Nursing Home has had a devastating impact on patients, families and staff.

“Only an independent public inquiry into the circumstances that led to the closure and subsequent deaths of so many patients will bring the truth to light.

“Everyone involved – including these patients, families and staff – must be asked to play their part. I have no confidence in the abilities of the RQIA and other relevant authorities to investigate this serious matter honestly.”

Mr Cullen pointed out that an RQIA description of the Valley Nursing Home as “the worst in Northern Ireland” had created a climate of fear and suspicion.

“It has also raised the specter of abuse and neglect, leading to online and public attacks on caregivers and tremendous anxiety and concern among patients,” he said.

“If RQIA truly believed this was happening, it had a legal obligation to report suspected perpetrators of such misconduct.

“As relatives, we are not aware of any abuse or neglect and the RQIA should publicly apologize for the pain and distress caused by your comments.

“If any person or organization has any information about abuse or neglect at the Valley Nursing Home – or any other nursing home – I would ask them to forward it to the PSNI.”

He concluded, “We had to fight for answers at every step.”

Last week the RQIA said: “RQIA has worked closely with the HSC Trusts and the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (then the Health and Social Care Board) to ensure a managed process that ensures the safety and well-being of all those in need of care at home and after the enforcement proceedings.” Only an independent inquiry will reveal truth of Co Tyrone nursing home closure, says relative

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