Patients ‘repeatedly assaulted’

Lakeview Hospital. (1610PG30)
Lakeview Hospital. (1610PG30)

Patients at a local care home for adults with learning disabilities have been the victims of repeated assaults by other patients, it’s been revealed.

Some patients at Brook Lodge (Lakeview Hospital) - which is located at the Gransha Park site - have sustained injuries such as breaks to skin and bruising.

The revelations are included in an inspection report published by regulatory body, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). RQIA inspectors carried out an announced inspection at Brook Lodge - a ten-bed inpatient facility for adults with a learning disability - in January of this year.

In response to the report, the Western Health Trust (WHSCT) - which manages the unit - said it had taken immediate action to have improvements in place and was committed to complying with the RQIA recommendations.

The publication of the Brook Lodge report - a copy of which has been seen by the Journal - comes just weeks after local health chiefs revealed that another residential home in Derry was at the centre of abuse allegations.

A number of staff at Ralphs Close, also a unit for vulnerable people on the Gransha Park site, have been suspended while investigations continue.

During the January inspection of Brook Lodge, RQIA inspectors noted that a “significant number” of incidents had occurred on the ward involving patients assaulting each other and, in some cases, sustaining injuries such as breaks to skin and bruising.

There was also evidence of patients experiencing repeated assaults from other individual patients and of a patient’s relative raising concerns about patient safety on the ward.

In addition, inspectors raised concerns that the Trust’s protection of vulnerable adults procedures were not being followed, adult protection concerns were not being adequately reported or investigated and there was poor evidence of documented protection arrangements.

The RQIA also noted that, in spite of assurances provided to it from the Western Health Trust (WHSCT) following a previous inspection (October 2010), a “significant number of staff” still had not received training in the protection of vulnerable adults.

Staff induction records, according to the RQIA, did not provide evidence that new staff had been given guidance on the ward’s procedures for safeguarding vulnerable adults.

Inspectors said they were of the opinion that “insufficient action” was taken to promote the safety and wellbeing of patients on the ward and noted that patients had suffered harm during their inpatient stay.

The RQIA inspection team said they were also “very concerned” to note that staff working in Brook Lodge were caring for a patient who presented with significant challenging behaviours, including violence and aggression.

“Staff were noted to have used physical interventions in the management of the patient - however, only four staff have received accredited training in the use of physical interventions,” pointed out the report.

In response to the RQIA report, the WHSCT said it was committed to implementing all recommendations made as part of the RQIA inspection report.

A Trust spokesperson said “much has been taken forward” since the inspection took place in January.

“Following these inspections, the Trust was notified of a number of recommendations for suggested improvements,” added the spokesperson.

“The Trust provided evidence of improvements already made and actions to be taken to address the remainder during September 2012 and this has been made available by RQIA towards the end of the published report being referred to.”

Trevor Millar, Director of Adult Mental Health and Disability Services for the Western Trust, added: “RQIA’s report highlighted areas for improvement and, following initial feedback from RQIA on these areas, the Trust took immediate action and agreed timescales with RQIA in which to have to have improvements in place.

“The Trust has proactively provided RQIA with a report on the actions and improvements it has taken since the inspection. This demonstrates our commitment to provide the highest quality services for adults with a learning disability.”

Mr Millar continued: “It is important that we learn from patients, relatives and other organisations such as RQIA who assess our services.

“This helps us to continually improve what we do to help ensure we provide responsive care and support.”

‘Very seriously’

Mr Aidan Gordon, Assistant Director for Adult Safeguarding for the Western Trust, commenting on the protection of vulnerable adults across Western Trust managed facilities, said: “The Trust takes the protection of all Vulnerable Adults in its care very seriously. 

“We can assure the public that the Trust has processes in place which are in line with Regional Policy and Procedures.

“The Trust has demonstrated its willingness to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure residents in Trust facilities were protected in the past and is committed to continuing this into the future.”