Saturday 18 November 2017

Care home residents were at risk during big freeze

Grainne Cunningham

ELDERLY residents in a nursing home were so cold during last winter's big freeze that they were at risk of hypothermia. Health inspectors had to get blankets and hot drinks to warm them up.

A litany of this and other serious problems relating to the care of residents at the Creevelea Nursing Home in Laytown, Co Meath was revealed yesterday in reports released by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

Creevelea was closed on July 4 after a successful court application by HIQA to cancel the nursing home's registration.

So concerned were HIQA inspectors about residents that they visited the nursing home at least 16 times between March 2010 and July 2011. A full-time monitoring staff was put in place to safeguard residents' safety and wellbeing from March 10 to July 4, 2011.

Yesterday, HIQA released four reports, outlining in detail the problems relating to Creevelea. Apart from inadequate heating, inspectors identified issues such as a serious gas leak, poor infection control and compromised security.

Twice gardai were called to the home after two unauthorised entries -- one resident woke at 3am to discover an intruder in the adjacent toilet.

The first unannounced inspection by HIQA took place in March 2010. On that occasion, the inspectors found there were serious risks to the health and safety of residents.

The director, Peter Murphy, was issued with an immediate action letter, identifying the improvements required.

However, despite 16 separate visits to the home over the next 12 months, inspectors who went to the home on March 7, 2011 found a kitchen "unswept, unwashed and dirty with food particles and grime".

Staffing levels, qualifications and the skills mix were "inappropriate" and there were ongoing maintenance issues.

On another occasion, the only fresh food in the kitchen was a bag of potatoes and a turnip. Staff referred to residents who required help with eating their meals as "feeders".

During the ensuing court case, HIQA inspector Nuala Rafferty said she had visited the premises on many occasions but concerns were not being addressed. Mr Murphy said he felt that he was being intimidated and bullied by HIQA.


The reports released yesterday also detailed the efforts Mr Murphy made to improve care and conditions at the home. For instance, residents were offered a choice of menu, days out were organised and they were invited to get involved with activities, such as music.

However, after the inspections on March 7 and 8, 2011, HIQA found that of 13 actions of a plan issued to Mr Murphy, he had completed just one, partially completed three and not completed nine.

It was after that inspection that the decision to take court action to cancel the home's registration was made.

Irish Independent

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