The Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch, has written to families giving an update on his investigation into Dunmurry Manor, one year on from the publication of his Home Truths report.

The report, which investigated the care and treatment of residents at Dunmurry Manor Care Home, called on seven relevant authorities to respond to 59 recommendations outlined in the report, which aimed to improve how all nursing homes across Northern Ireland deliver care, are inspected and managed. The relevant authorities, which included four Health and Social Care Trusts, the RQIA, the Department of Health and Runwood Homes, submitted those responses in October 2018.

The Commissioner Eddie Lynch said: “Myself, my investigation team and independent expert panel reviewed and analysed over 400 responses in total (seven responses to each of the 59 recommendations). Given the nature and magnitude of the recommendations made to the seven RAs, this has undoubtedly been a complex task.

“Following this review, I felt strongly that further information was required in respect of a number of the recommendations. I have therefore gone back to each of the relevant authorities requesting additional information on some aspects of their responses so that I can be fully assured that the appropriate action has and is being taken. Until this further information has been received and assessed, I am legally bound under the COPNI Act 2011, to continue to carry out the investigation in private.

“Over the past 12 months, it’s clear that the findings uncovered in Home Truths have undoubtedly shone a light on the important issue of safeguarding older people living in care homes across Northern Ireland. Since its publication, separate investigations have commenced into what happened at Dunmurry Manor. This includes an independent review by the department of Health and a criminal investigation by the PSNI. My team has contributed in so far as it can to all of these processes and will continue to do so.

“I understand families are anxious for progress to be made quickly, as am I, and I am thankful for their support, patience and understanding as I continue to see through this investigation. My recommendations call for systemic change, not just for change in Dunmurry Manor. They address issues of safeguarding and human rights, medicines management, regulation and inspection, accountability and governance, to name but a few and will impact on how all nursing homes deliver care, are inspected and how they are managed. It’s important that the changes are made as quickly as possible of course, but it’s more important that I am fully assured this is being done and in the most effective way it can be.

“There is clearly much more progress to be made to ensure that the recommendations from Home Truths are fully implemented to better protect older people now and in the future. Older people in Northern Ireland have a right to be protected and to receive the highest standards of care at all times. The investigation into Dunmurry Manor remains a priority for me and I am determined that the failures identified in my Home Truths report are responded to in full and in a manner that fully assures me that older people are better protected.

“I wish to thank the families of residents of Dunmurry Manor for their continued support and dedication in this difficult process and I remain committed to meeting with families once this investigation has concluded and I’m looking forward to providing them with a comprehensive update as soon as it is possible.”

Read the one year on update here