Tuesday 24 October 2017

Court rules nursing home must stay closed

Claire O'Brien, Shane Phelan and Gordon Deegan

A NURSING home is to remain closed after its owners failed to overturn a court decision to shut it.

Judge Gerard Haughton yesterday upheld an earlier interim court order to de-register Upton House Nursing Home in Clara, Co Offaly.

He also accused the home's proprietor, 72-year-old Maureen Flanagan, of giving evidence that was untrue, contained omissions and was designed to mislead the court.

The home was initially closed and its 13 residents were transferred elsewhere in October following a request from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

HIQA had alleged breaches and failures at the home that were a risk to the life and safety of the residents.

At Tullamore District Court yesterday, where Ms Flanagan was seeking to have the closure order overturned, the judge read a lengthy judgment that upheld the earlier decision.

He said there had been a risk to the life of a male resident who fell out of bed when an ambulance was not immediately called.

The judge said that Ms Flanagan's evidence that she had no responsibility for the man while they waited for a doctor to arrive showed an unacceptable attitude.

The judge said he wondered how many times a resident must fall to be considered at risk of falling.

A frail 95-year-old woman, who used a Zimmer frame, had fallen three times, yet was not considered to be at risk.

The woman sustained a fracture when she fell from her bed, her second fall in one evening.

HIQA should have been informed of both patients' falls, but only became aware during an inspection, the judge said.

Failures

He outlined Ms Flanagan's failures to implement changes required following inspection reports, to keep records that would inform all staff about a resident's condition and to instigate independent investigations into complaints of abuse, such as rough handling, against herself and other staff.

Yesterday's decision comes just four months after Ms Flanagan issued High Court proceedings to stop the Irish Independent from publishing details of HSE investigations carried out at the nursing home.

The action, which has yet to be heard, effectively barred the HSE from releasing the records to the Irish Independent under freedom of information rules.

Ms Flanagan has claimed the release of the reports would be defamatory of her and of Sorta Ltd, the company through which she runs the home.

Irish Independent

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