Sunday 25 August 2019

Majority of care homes 'fail to meet full standard'

Fire and building rules are biggest challenges

CONCERN: Stephen McMahon
CONCERN: Stephen McMahon
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Almost all of the nursing homes inspected this year by the health regulator fell short of being fully compliant with standards, new data analysis reveals.

The findings show that of the 137 nursing homes inspected between January and April, only nine, or 6.6pc, were fully compliant with regulations laid down by law.

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The analysis showed that issues with fire precautions and with the actual premises presented nursing homes with the biggest challenges.

Forty-eight nursing homes were not compliant with fire precautions; 28 were substantially compliant; while 40 nursing homes failed to bring their premises up to standard. The regulations on premises requires nursing homes to protect the privacy of older residents, to provide suitably sized rooms and sufficient storage space.

More than a third of nursing homes inspected struggled with governance and management issues. A further 25 were not compliant with the requirement for proper record keeping; 23 were not compliant with risk management; and 21 were not compliant with regulations ensuring patients' rights.

The data analysis was carried out on public and private nursing homes by a US firm of health care analysts, AssurUs, and shared with the Irish Patients' Association.

The association's director, Stephen McMahon, said the findings are concerning and can be taken as further confirmation of the problems facing public nursing homes.

As revealed in the Sunday Independent last week, the board of the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has raised concerns over the poor physical state of many public facilities with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris. Many public care centres are housed in older buildings, and in some cases vulnerable residents are living in overcrowded dormitories. As a result, many centres are consistently failing to meet the standards enforced by Hiqa, which is responsible for inspections and is legally obliged to take enforcement action against those that fail to meet the standard. Ninety- five nursing homes have been given a derogation so they can be brought up to standard but Hiqa believes 45 public facilities will not meet the deadline.

"A key risk that concerns us is this: if this derogation is not extended, will nursing homes have to close because they do not comply with Hiqa regulations?" said Mr McMahon.

The latest batch of inspection reports published last week reflected ongoing problems with old buildings. Residents living in multiple occupancy rooms in a nursing home in Clare were unable to sit by their beds without interruption, were unable to keep personal belongings by their bedside, and some couldn't access their wardrobes. In St Finbarr's nursing home in Cork, older residents were six to a room and inspectors were not happy with fire safety.

Earlier this year, inspectors found that residents in a Limerick nursing home who shared a room all contracted the same infection, as it progressed from one to the next.

A statement from the company which analysed the data said: "AssurUs provides analytical tools and other services for healthcare organisations to assist in the improvement of the quality of care and patient safety. All information contained in the above chart is based upon publicly available data."

Sunday Independent

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