Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland


15th February 2017

Action on Elder Abuse Northern Ireland questions response to abuse in Bloomfields Private Nursing Home

Charity Action on Elder Abuse Northern Ireland has questioned why action was not taken sooner against the senior carer in Bloomsfield Private Nursing Home, East Belfast who was struck off by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council this week.

Arlene Smyth received a removal order by a fitness to practise committee after it was found that she had subjected elderly residents to various forms of ill treatment over a period of two months, including swearing and violently grabbing patients and tying their nightdresses in order to stop them being able to access their incontinence pads. Of the 18 allegations made against Ms Smyth, 17 were proven.

Discussing the case, Veronica Gray, Director of Action on Elder Abuse Northern Ireland, said:

“While we welcome the fact that Arlene Smyth will no longer be able to work with vulnerable older people, many questions remain about this case.

“The report by the Fitness to Practise Committee makes clear that this abuse went on for two months and involved five different residents, so why did no one put a stop to this sooner? Similarly, some of the instances of abuse – such as forcibly holding residents down – surely amount to assault. Were the police notified of this? And if not, why not?

“Our fear is that this may be yet another case involving the abuse of older people in which intervention has taken place too late, and the punishment has been too little.”

In 2015/16 cases involving physical abuse of older people accounted for 497 out of 929 referrals regarding adults at risk to Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland.

The charity urges anyone who suspects that an older person is being abused in a care home setting, whether they are a relative or whistleblower, to call Action on Elder Abuse Northern Ireland’s national freephone on 080 8808 8141 for confidential support and information (open Monday to Friday between the hours of 9.00am and 5.00pm)





About Action on Elder Abuse

Action on Elder Abuse is a UK-wide charity with a presence in all four nations. It aims to protect and prevent the abuse of vulnerable older people by raising awareness of the issues, encouraging education and giving information and support to those in need. It has the only national freephone helpline (Elder Abuse Response) dedicated to this cause, open Monday to Friday between the hours of 9.00am and 5.00pm on 080 8808 8141 for confidential support and information.
With funds from the Big Lottery, in 2015 Action on Elder Abuse established staff in Northern Ireland to highlight and challenge the abuse of older people.


For further information, or to arrange an interview with Veronica Gray, please contact Sarah Carlin on 07701061512 or

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