Revealed: sick list of elder abuse claims at nursing home
Published 08/06/2011 | 14:36
Claims of elder abuse, an unusually high number of falls and other injuries to vulnerable old people were found at a Dublin nursing home, it was revealed today.
The Health Service Executive took charge of the Rostrevor Nursing Home in Rathgar last Friday after the Health Information and Quality Authority secured a court order cancelling its registration.
An affidavit on the case reveals that HIQA inspectors believed there was a serious risk to the life of residents, a lack of clinical governance and negligence.
All 23 residents were vulnerable, elderly people and were entirely reliant on their carers to protect them from abuse, the agency reported. The HSE is currently trying to find new nursing home beds for them.
Incidents of alleged abuse had gone largely unreported and were in effect were 'covered up by the alleged abuser' and that many of the residents were unable to articulate or verbalise any concern or fears, inspectors said.
In one case in late 2010, a male care assistant - described as Care Assistant 'P' - is alleged to have banged a resident's head against a door jam. The care assistant called staff members together and instructed them to say that the resident had fallen and hit his head.
The case was reported to the owner of the home, but there is no record of action being taken. It was also claimed that the same assistant kicked a resident a number of times on the floor.
In a separate case, the same assistant routinely took a female resident to the bathroom on his own and other staff members reported hearing screaming. This happened regularly.
He is also alleged to have slapped a resident in the face while putting him to bed.
Nursing home staff members who provided information to its inspectors were clearly frightened and concerned that mentioning the incidents could lead them to lose their job, HIQA said.
Three staff members would only speak to HIQA away from the home as they feared for their jobs and working visas if they made a complaint. HIQA reported the matter to Gardai on May 27 last.
During inspections carried out on 25 and 26 May, HIQA inspectors discovered an alarming history of falls, injuries and other incidents in a sample of eight residents.
Widely publicised allegations of abuse in the past led to the alleged perpetrator, a male nurse, being struck off the register by An Bord Altranais in December 2010, and two other nurses also being struck off for professional misconduct, for failing to take appropriate action.
One of these nurses was the proprietor of the home, Therese Lipsett, who was struck off for failing to manage the issue. But HIQA said that Mrs Lipsett was still involved in Rostrevor up to March this year.
Mrs Lipsett is still the registered owner of the home, which is operated by a company, Kitelm Limited.
Inspectors found stomach-churning examples of filth, neglect and badly dressed wounds at the expensive privately run nursing home in 2006 but Mrs Lipsett claimed her business was "the most intimate and beautiful nursing home".
The HSE failed in a High Court attempt to close the home in 2004, and in 2005 campaigners for the elderly expressed dismay when Ms Lipsett was fined just €8,000 for failing to provide adequate care to the patients at her nursing home. Two months after receiving the fine Ms Lipsett wrote to the HSE begging for conditions on her registration to be withdrawn.
In a letter dated November 4, 2005 she said: "As you know I was the victim of a malicious campaign. The only sin I am guilty of is being too good and kind. I beg of you to have them (the conditions) removed as they also prevent me from being registered with VHI. I am at the end of my wits and cannot continue to operate without your help. I am punished for things other nursing homes are only doing now."
Ms Lipsett admitted in Dublin District Court to failing to provide a high standard of nursing care for a patient with a bedsore, failing to make arrangements for the safekeeping of medicines, and failing to develop and implement a wound management policy for patients.
She also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with conditions of her registration relating to ending a practice of leaving wounds exposed, failing to maintain a safe and supervised environment for residents, and failing to provide bed and bedding appropriate to a 101-year-old woman found sleeping in a chair.
The court heard that during four separate visits, inspectors found certain patients were not getting correct nursing care.