Monday 26 February 2018

Shocking catalogue of complaints made about nursing homes

HIQA received 124 complaints in relation to nursing homes between June and October last year. (Stock image)
HIQA received 124 complaints in relation to nursing homes between June and October last year. (Stock image)
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

HIQA received 124 complaints in relation to nursing homes between June and October last year, writes Shane Phelan.

The complaints were made by staff members, relatives of residents and, in some cases, the residents themselves.

Issues such as poor staffing levels, hygiene and homes not fulfilling their duty of care were highlighted on several occasions.

The complaints were released under the Freedom of Information Act, with the identities of the homes and the elderly redacted to safeguard their identities.

Verbal abuse

A staff member at a nursing home complained about vile verbal abuse a colleague directed at an elderly resident who was "on their deathbed".

The resident needed to be turned due to pressure sores and it is claimed the colleague said: "Roll over there you big fat c**t."

The same staff member was alleged to have thrown water at another elderly resident with dementia, remarking: "That fairly shut you the f*** up, didn't it."

The staff member who made the complaint said they resigned after no action was taken.

In another nursing home, it was alleged a staff member insulted an elderly resident about their false teeth. As a result, the resident stopped wearing them.

The resident would eat slowly, causing the abusive staff member to become impatient and say: "I'll put that plate in your face."

Hygiene & cleanliness

It was claimed a bedbound resident was left soiled, wet and unwashed overnight until noon the following day when a visiting relative had to request they be washed and changed. The resident had bedsores

In another home, a relative alleged a resident with challenging behaviour was admitted to hospital with no clothes or toiletries and there was evidence their personal hygiene was ignored by staff in their nursing home.

Staffing levels

A nursing home employee claimed she was sacked after raising serious understaffing and hygiene issues. She claimed she was accused of spending too long bleaching kitchen delft at a time when there was MRSA and C diff in the building.

It was alleged another nursing home had just one nurse and two care assistants supervising 63 residents at night time, despite the fact most of the residents were high dependency.

At a third nursing home, it was claimed there was only one nurse and one care assistant on duty to care for residents in two separate buildings.

In a fourth home, a relative of a resident complained a lack of staff meant there was continuous pressure on workers and they were unable to assist people at mealtimes or provide any stimulation.

In a fifth home, it is alleged workers were told to allow residents at risk of falling to walk unattended to the toilet as there was not enough staff to assist them.

Duty of care

HIQA received allegations a nurse left a resident in the dark with no lights on following an argument. The resident subsequently had a fall and died 20 minutes later, it was claimed.

Allegations were made that a resident in a second home was constantly falling and being put to bed afterwards without any examination for possible injury.

It was claimed the windows of the smoking room in the same home were padlocked shut, causing a fire safety risk.

In another home, it was alleged a feeble resident suffered a fractured hip and shoulder after being taken for a walk without being 'linked' by a staff member.

In a fourth home, a relative asked that a resident not be left in a wheelchair as they were prone to falls after dozing off, but this did not happen. The communal sitting room was never supervised and one clinical nurse manager was left taking care of two floors due to a staff illness.

In a fifth home, residents had to take cold showers over a period of four days. It was also claimed this home was seriously understaffed.

The owner of a sixth home is alleged to have witnessed a resident falling, but continued a conversation they were having and did not go to the aid of the stricken resident.


It was claimed a nursing home resident was being denied access to fresh drinking water and ended up being admitted to hospital with dehydration as a result.

Staff would leave a jug on a table for the resident, but they were unable to reach it and were not given assistance.

Communication problems

Several complaints were made about the hiring of staff for nursing homes who spoke poor English. There were also complaints about their apparent inability to communicate or understand residents.

Irish Independent

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