Abuse probe unit plan

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A plan is in place to overhaul the “culture of care” at the Derry care unit at the centre of an abuse probe.

DUP minister Edwin Poots said an improvement plan is now in place that will “transform the culture of care at Ralphs Close from a nursing model to a social care model, which is more in keeping with a residential home”.

He said the plan will address leadership and governance, training and development, and adult safeguarding at the multimillion pound unit.

The Minster was speaking in the Assembly in response to a request for an update on recent allegations at the home by Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney.

In September it emerged that allegations had been made surrounding the treatment of vulnerable young adults at the Gransha facility.

The PSNI is investigating those claims and a number of staff at the care unit have been suspended.

Mr Poots said the improvement plan is being implemented and overseen by a project board made up of senior managers from the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

“The trust is reporting progress to the Department, the Health and Social Care Board, the Public Health Agency and the RQIA (Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority). It is also keeping all the families of residents in Ralphs Close fully informed of developments.”

The minister continued: “The PSNI investigation into the original allegations is continuing. It remains the case that we should not comment in any way that might prejudice that investigation.

“However, along with other Members, I encourage anyone with information that may assist the investigation to bring it forward.”

Mr Poots said if allegations are proved to be true “there will have to be a thorough inquiry into how it was allowed to happen and how we can ensure that it does not happen again elsewhere”.

In March, Mr Poots visited the unit and hailed it as an “excellent example of what can be achieved when we work together for the good of our clients.”

The £3.3 million scheme provides purpose-built accommodation for 16 Western Health Trust patients who previously lived in Mourne House, Stradreagh Hospital.