Staff at under-fire Belfast care home spat at and taunted


Staff at an under-fire care home on the outskirts of Belfast have been spat at, jeered and a car attacked.

The PSNI were called to Dunmurry Manor at around noon on Wednesday after staff felt intimidated by the arrival of a number of people in cars.

Earlier this month an investigation into the care home by Northern Ireland's Commissioner for Older People Eddie Lynch found a "horrific catalogue of inhuman and degrading treatment".

On Wednesday morning, the Department of Health's permanent secretary Richard Pengelly said there had been "repeated unacceptable failings in care".

"That is a matter of extreme regret for everyone in the health and social care system," said Mr Pengelly.

The department announced an independent review of the response from the health and social care system in Northern Ireland following the failings that had been found at Dunmurry Manor.

Sanctioning offending care homes is one of a number of actions being considered by the department.

Mr Lynch welcomed the announcement by the department as an "important first step".

The home's owner, Runwood Homes, says staff have been targeted in a series of incidents since the report was published on June 13.

It said a care assistant was attacked with a bottle while leaving the premises last weekend, and individuals have been threatened with rape, shooting and death on social media.

A nurse had windows at her own home smashed during the investigation, and since the report her car has been damaged.

The statement said that care home staff and their children have been refused service or shunned in some shops, while children of staff have been taunted that their mothers are "sex abusers".

"The PSNI has been informed about these incidents and is currently looking into them," the statement added.

Mr Lynch condemned the attacks and called for calm.

"For over 70 older people, Dunmurry Manor is their home and any attacks or disruption at the premises is likely to be greatly distressing for them. In addition, my investigation found that many members of staff at Dunmurry Manor tried their best to provide care but were let down by a lack of leadership, being expected to do the job with low numbers of staff and little or no training," he said.

Dunmurry Manor opened in 2014 but repeated inspections identified problems while family members and former employees also raised concerns.

Runwood Homes said the current staff team, with just a few exceptions, were not working at the care home when the historic cases happened.

The company went on to detail improvements which have been made.

"The Board of Directors of Runwood Homes has worked hard with a new manager and a new senior team to improve standards at Dunmurry and we are currently reviewing the 59 recommendations of the Home Truths report," they said.

"We can confirm that we have referred a number of former members of staff to their regulatory bodies for investigation, but we cannot comment further for legal reasons.

"Our highest priority now is to continue to provide a safe and calm environment so that our residents can enjoy the highest standard of care carried out by staff who do not feel frightened or intimidated."