New report critical of nursing homes

Some failing to meet basic needs of residents
  • Deborah Condon

While the quality of care being provided in nursing homes in Ireland is improving, some homes are not even meeting basic requirements, such as ensuring that residents have enough privacy and are treated with dignity, a new report has found.

According to the findings, just 23% of nursing homes that were inspected during 2018 were found to be fully compliant with regulations.

The report has been published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). It provides an overview of regulation activity in designated centres for older people during 2018.

As of the end of December 2018, there were 581 nursing homes registered with HIQA and these provided residential places to 31,250 people

Last year, HIQA carried out 542 inspections of 444 centres, which is 76% of all registered nursing homes. Almost three in four of these inspections were unannounced.

Overall, just 123 (23%) of all nursing homes inspected during 2018 were found to be fully compliant with the regulations.

"Residents should expect to receive safe care that meets their specific needs and should be assured that their home is being well managed. Our inspections found that this was the case for a large number of people, but many vulnerable older people continue to receive care in a physical environment that is not conducive to providing care in a dignified, safe and personalised manner.

"Some nursing homes are still failing to meet basic requirements, such as protecting residents from the risk of fire and ensuring they are afforded adequate space, privacy and dignity," explained HIQA's director of regulation and chief inspector of social services, Mary Dunnion.

In relation to fire safety, some centres were "a major cause for concern", according to the report. Compliance with fire safety regulations was assessed during 221 inspections and providers were found to be non-compliant in 30% of these.

Meanwhile, the report pointed out that inspectors "continued to see centres where residents' rights to dignity and privacy were not upheld in 2018".

"It is simply unacceptable that some of the most vulnerable people in Ireland continued to live in centres where the care culture allowed residents to spend their entire day confined to bed, with no independence of movement, no access to their own belongings, isolated dining experiences and not being able to join in or observe activities," it stated.

The report also emphasised the need for better safeguarding measures to protect nursing home residents.

"Safeguarding is a basic function of any health or social care service and all service providers need to take this responsibility seriously.

"There is a clear obligation on registered providers to have a Garda vetting disclosure for all staff and volunteers available for inspection in the nursing home. However, almost half of HSE services were failing to provide evidence of Garda vetting on inspection in 2018," Ms Dunnion noted.

The report pointed out that improvements had been observed during some inspections and these were related to governance and management, and the provision of suitable activities that were aimed at meeting residents' social care needs.

"We continue to see a direct relationship between good governance and leadership, regulatory compliance and good outcomes for people living in the centre.

"It is essential that all nursing homes have a competent and qualified person in charge in place to ensure residents are receiving safe and quality care. Furthermore, as a whole, there are an increased number of meaningful activities available for residents, providing them with things of interest to do on a daily basis," Ms Dunnion explained.

She added that HIQA will continue to focus on areas of concern to ensure that nursing homes are meeting the needs of residents.

The report can be viewed here.


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