Dunmurry Manor scandal: USPCA would give better care to their animals, says former resident’s relative

The late Annie McCourt, a former Dunmurry Manor resident, with her granddaughter Julieann McNally
The late Annie McCourt, a former Dunmurry Manor resident, with her granddaughter Julieann McNally

The USPCA would care for their animals better than the way the elderly are treated in Northern Ireland, the family of a former resident of a care home subject to a 16-month investigation has said.

Julieann McNally, whose late grandmother Annie McCourt was a resident of Dunmurry Manor on the outskirts of Belfast for six months in 2016, was speaking after the publication of a damning report into care at the home.

Dunmurry Manor Care Home was severely criticised in the report by the Commissioner for Older People

Dunmurry Manor Care Home was severely criticised in the report by the Commissioner for Older People

The report was carried out by the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland after concerns were raised by residents’ families and whistleblowers back in 2016.

The commissioner, Eddie Lynch, said: “I found that some residents who were extremely vulnerable, living with dementia, experienced a horrific catalogue of inhuman and degrading treatment, with many spending their last few months living in appalling circumstances.

“There were significant failures in the safeguarding and care of many residents in Dunmurry Manor, with residents su ffering harm through physical and sexual assaults.”

Ms McNally, a 39-year-old working mother of three from west Belfast, said: “We had started raising concerns when she was in about six weeks – so quite quickly.

“The initial concerns were that she was missing meals and stuff, so they weren’t feeding her. She was missing those times of days where she had to be fed.

“Initially that was put down to mistakes or the fact that she preferred to be in her room, that sort of stuff.

“Then it went to poor hygiene. We started to notice that her hygiene wasn’t being cared for properly and her room had started to smell pretty foul.

“She became incontinent and was having accidents in bed, and the beds were made up dirty or wet. She got out of bed and the staff would have went in and made up a dirty bed that was full of urine or faeces.

“We had concerns over medication.

“We had concerns over Granny Annie telling us she was being locked in her room at night and we were being told that couldn’t have been happening.”

Ms McNally described her grandmother as a remarkable woman at the centre of a large family.

“She was a woman who had nine children and 164 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. She was the heart of the family,” she said.

“She was born in 1926. She lost her mother when she was six years old. Her children and her grandchildren was her life, through the wars and the Troubles. She was a strong woman who was independently minded.”

She added: “We are thankful that we could take her home and she had all the love and the compassion she deserved, because she wasn’t getting it in Dunmurry.”

Mr Lynch also criticised the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) for a failure to uncover “the extent of the problems experienced by many residents” despite “carrying out 23 inspections in a 39-month period”.

The managing director of the firm who operate the facility, Runwood Homes, has quit.