Staff and relatives of residents at Glenview Private Care Home say they are devastated at last week’s closure of the home.
The Bleary Road facility, which had 25 residents, closed on Thursday after almost 27 years.
And staff say their distress has been exacerbated by misinformation, and comments on social media, which they claim have vilified their reputations.
Owners of the home Brendan and Bernadette Breen have clarified the events leading up to the closure - pointing out that it was due to a shortage of staff nurses and unrelated to Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) inspection findings.
The RQIA confirmed on Friday that there had been no enforcement action at the home since March 2015 - when a number of beaches of regulations were identified and consequently rectified - and that the organisation had gone to the home on Thursday at the request of the owners.
There is currently a separate safeguarding investigation into an incident at the home, which is being investigated by the PSNI and social workers from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
It was instigated after the home contacted authorities with their concerns.
All 25 residents have been moved to alternative nursing homes - with staff describing tearful scenes as many had to be transferred by stretcher to the waiting ambulances.
The 49 staff, ranging from carers, kitchen staff, domestics, cleaners and maintenance, are now having to seek alternative employment after the shock announcement.
One of the last things staff did was organise an early celebration for Laurelvale woman Sarah Edgar, whose 103rd birthday is on February 2.
Her daughter Olive Lappin said, “She was here for 13 years and I worked here for 20 years until I retired.
“It is absolutely heartbreaking.”
A statement issued by Mr and Mr Breen said, “On Thursday of last week, due to circumstance outside of my control I could no longer assure the regulatory bodies that I would have sufficient staff nurses to work within the home to provide 24-hour cover.
“I had attempted to secure cover via agencies but unfortunately that is not always guaranteed so I had no choice but to voluntarily withdraw my registration.
“As a result the Southern Health Trust took on responsibility for the residents and placed them in alternative accommodation as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Breen said the separate police investigation was instigated by management within the home upon receipt of concerns. “I can offer reassurance that once these matters came to the attention of the manager that they were escalated to the relevant oversight bodies immediately.
“I can only apologise for any distress or concern caused and seek to reassure you that we are co-operating fully with the investigation.
“The Breen family, management and staff are all very upset at this turn of events and have been advised by investigating authorities not to discuss this matter with anyone.”
The statement added, I would like to thank all my staff for their loyalty and service over the years, as well as my previous residents and their families for their support.”
At a meeting on Monday, one of the home’s 25 carers said, “I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that all the carers here have given 100 per cent to all the clients over the years.
“We are all very professional here in what we do. We wouldn’t be sitting here if we didn’t care.”
One of Glenview’s kitchen staff, who spoke on behalf of her colleagues, said, “The kitchen staff took great pride in the cleanliness of our kitchen, which had a five star rating. All the food was home-made, we baked our own bread and we knew all the residents’ likes and dislikes.”
Another member of staff, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “Our hearts go out to the clients. We have cared for these people for years. We have been left here now with no jobs and we are being slandered. We need a voice as well.”
And another, Sandra, said, “The people who close these places don’t see the devastation. We were crying, the patients and relatives were crying, even the ambulance staff who came to move the residents were crying.”
Jacqueline Moore, who worked at the home for 17 years, said, “I loved it here, it was like a wee family.”
There have been other messages of support from relatives of former residents and from a former nurse. One email said, “We as a family could certainly not have asked for anything more than the level of care and compassion given to us at Glenview.”
Relatives have also been putting on record their appreciation of the care their loved ones received.
Shirley Hume said she was devastated when she heard the home was closing. Her mum Violet Moffett (83) had been a resident from last November.
She added, “My mum was always clean, well dressed, happy and well fed. The menu was like an hotel menu, and there were plenty of staff to help with care and feeding.”
The daughter of 79-year-old Florence, a resident for six years, described her mum’s care as “excellent” and said the closure was like the break-up of a family.
George Perry, whose parents-in-law Pat and Pearl McConaghy (both 86) were residents for five years, said both had been well cared for.