'No security of tenure' for nursing home residents
Nursing homes should not be allowed to ask an elderly resident to leave, even if their relatives are proving difficult to deal with, Ombudsman Peter Tyndall has warned.
He said the current terms and conditions of care in a nursing home can be harsh and offer "no security of tenure" whatsoever to a resident.
"A number of cases brought to my attention concerned the termination, or threatened termination of a contract for a resident due to the behaviour and actions of family members, rather than anything the resident themselves did," he said.
He recently dealt with a case where the contract of a resident with advanced dementia was terminated due to problems with her daughter: "In this case following discussion with the resident's daughter, the nursing home revoked the notice.
"Sadly, the resident passed away just two weeks later."
He said the evidence is that moving a person, especially a resident with dementia, can be harmful and debilitating and can lead to a "downward progression".
While some relatives can be challenging he firmly believes the problem should not affect the resident themselves.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has been asked to carry out a review of nursing home contracts and Mr Tyndall has raised this issue and others with the watchdog.
The Ombudsman's office received 93 complaints which related to nursing homes last year, compared to 57 in 2016.
He said one third were upheld and related to a range of issues such as the eligibility and means assessment for the Fair Deal scheme, general care and treatment .
There were also grievances about the imposition of "top up charges" to cover the resident's social activities.
Others referred to sending residents to hospital or their end-of-life care.