Action has been initiated to start relocating residents from Clifton Nursing Home in Belfast due to ongoing concerns about the way it is being run, Health Minister Robin Swann has confirmed.
The relocation process is being led by Belfast Trust, after detailed discussions with the Department of Health.
Mr Swann said it is being handled sensitively, with residents and families being closely consulted.
He continued: “I very much regret that this serious intervention has become necessary. There have been ongoing concerns about this home, with recent inspections from the RQIA and ongoing regulatory activity.
“Given the current situation facing care homes with Covid-19, decisive action is essential. I therefore welcome the fact that Trusts have started to contact families about moving residents as soon as possible to other facilities which meet their needs.
“At the same time, ongoing action is being taken to protect residents. Senior nursing and other staff from Belfast Trust are and will continue to be on the ground in the home to ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents. This will be essential to give the necessary time to move residents at a safe pace and in consultation with them and their families.
“The concerns about the home relate in part to its management of a Covid-19 outbreak. It needs to be stressed that a large majority of care homes in Northern Ireland do not have Covid-19 outbreaks. Where homes do have outbreaks, they are working closely with Trusts, the Public Health Agency and RQIA to appropriately manage the situation. If a home’s response is inadequate, action will be taken – as has happened in this case.
“This is, of course, far from being an ideal situation. Moving frail and elderly people out of their home in this way will undoubtedly cause great stress and upset to them and their families. It is a process that has to be handled sensitively and cannot happen overnight.
“As is so often the case at present, the Health and Social Care system has had to choose the least worst option. I am deeply sorry that residents and their families are being put through this.”
The Minister added: “There is, quite rightly, intense focus on the heavy responsibilities of statutory bodies in relation to care homes.
“Care homes themselves also have serious responsibilities and action must be taken when they fail to fulfil their duties.”