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Health watchdog granted emergency order to close nursing home due to risk to residents of Covid-19 - report

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An emergency order was granted to health watchdog Hiqa to close a nursing home due to the risk to residents from Covid-19, a new report has revealed.

The Hiqa report revealed serious weaknesses in infection control were found in half of the nursing homes inspected by Hiqa after the Covid-19 outbreak.

The report in nursing homes followed inspections in the wake of the outbreaks of the virus across facilities which were hit by the deadly infection.

The inspectors revealed:

  • 60pc of the nursing homes visited would have suffered a worse outbreak because of a low standard of governance and management
  • One facility staff were doing multiple tasks including laundry and kitchen duties which cause a risk of cross infection
  • The inspectors found the door of a resident who was positive for the virus was left open
  • None of the 44 homes where there were cases of Covid-19 fully complied with regulations to stem the spread of the disease

It was also revealed that one nursing home saw 29 members of staff test positive for the coronavirus.

“One centre was found to have had 29 members of staff that had tested positive for Covid-19 and were thus unavailable to work,” the report states.

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“This resulted in knock-on negative effects in terms of nursing care for residents and the proper cleaning of the centre in line with national guidance.”

There was also a risk of cross-contamination found with some staff in some centres carrying out multiple tasks, such as laundry and kitchen duties.

“Such multi-tasking by the same members of staff poses a risk of cross infection in centres. In addition, there were instances of insufficient staff being available at night-time.”

The Chief Inspector found that in one facility, 14 people shared one shower room.

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“There were limited showering facilities in the centre. In one wing of the centre, there were two showers shared between 10 residents, and in another area, the person in charge told the inspector that 14 people share one shower room,” the inspector reported.

The report found nursing home residents have spoken of a deep sense of isolation and loneliness due to Covid-19 visiting restrictions.

The older residents have experienced a range of emotions.

“Some feared contracting the virus and worried about their family and friends, while others felt a deep sense of isolation and loneliness as a result of the visiting restrictions.

“Without exception, residents were deeply grateful to staff in nursing homes for the care they provided in extremely challenging circumstances.”

The revelations are made in the report, The Impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes in Ireland, by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), the patient safety watchdog.

It said relatives and friends of residents spoke of the worry and anxiety they felt for their loved ones. Some reported that they experienced poor communication with nursing homes, which only served to heighten their anxiety.

“Others raised concerns regarding the adherence to public health guidance and the appropriate use of PPE.”

The report details the findings of recent inspections and Hiqa’s interaction with nursing homes throughout the outbreak, and describes the experiences of residents, their relatives and staff.

Throughout the public health emergency Hiqa said it has continued to regulate nursing homes. In line with international best practice, on-site inspections were temporarily suspended to prevent the spread of infection amongst nursing homes; however, Hiqa “remained in regular contact with the providers and managers of centres to monitor their ability to protect residents in the event of an outbreak of Covid-19.”

“A number of initiatives were introduced, such as Hiqa’s Infection Prevention and Control Hub, the resumption of a programme of risk-based inspections, and the expedition of applications to open new nursing home beds.”

Chief Inspector of Social Services and Director of Regulation, Mary Dunnion, said: “Covid-19 has deeply affected many people and the fallout will be with us for a considerable period of time. Our sympathies go to all those who have lost a loved one or a friend due to the virus.

“Covid-19 has brought into sharp focus the need for reform of current models of care for older people in Ireland.

“The continued use of multi-occupancy rooms and outmoded premises in some nursing homes undoubtedly created challenges in containing the spread of infection.

“We must look to complementary models of care, such as homecare and assisted living, and ensure that there is improved clinical oversight in all nursing homes.

“Furthermore, the regulations governing nursing homes are outdated and must be revised to make them fit for purpose, particularly as regards governance, staffing numbers, skill-mix, and infection prevention and control.

“Hiqa will continue to listen to the experiences of residents, relatives and staff to strive for safer, better care that focuses on the human-rights and individual needs of the person.”

Online Editors