Standards should not be allowed to drop for our elderly in care

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2019 National Retired Members Conference
11 June 2019

Conference notes with serious concern the June 2018 report of the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland (COPNI) into Dunmurry Manor Care Home and believes that the abuse and neglect of residents in the home that it details is both shocking and appalling. Council notes that COPNI began its investigation into Dunmurry Manor after former members of staff alleged that poor and unsafe practices were taking place. The COPNI report states that the relevant authorities were aware of the concerns around the low standard of care within Dunmurry Manor but did not provide an appropriate response to protect the basic human rights of residents and their families. Similarly, Dunmurry Manor and Runwood Homes are accused of systemic failure in their response to concerns which were raised with them.

The report details unsafe working practices, a lack of appropriate equipment, inadequate staffing levels and high levels of use of agency staff, a high turnover of staff, a lack of training and poor morale. The report details numerous changes in management of the home and staff being told not to speak to the regulator in Northern Ireland, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), during inspections.

Conference agrees that this report raises serious concerns about how social care settings are inspected, monitored and regulated, including in relation to how our members are enabled to raise concerns about unsafe practices, abuse or neglect. Conference notes that in the Northern Ireland region, a programme of work is on going to enable and empower UNISON members to raise concerns and protect older people using social care services. This has included seeking the establishment of information sharing protocols between UNISON, the relevant regulatory bodies and the Health and Social Care Trusts responsible for the commissioning and delivery of services.

Conference calls on the National Retired Members’ Committee to draw on the experiences of the Northern Ireland region in developing a campaign aimed at ensuring that the delivery of care means that our older people would receive the dignity, respect, empowerment and equality which will make them feel valued in life. This campaign should ensure that the standards of care, safeguarding, and training for all staff are at the highest level of excellence in both our care homes and our hospitals and that high quality of care for our elderly becomes the norm.