Sunday 24 March 2019

Nursing home resident 'in toilet for hours had to bang on a radiator'

Stock image
Stock image

Darragh McDonagh

An immobile nursing-home resident was left unattended on a toilet for hours, and was only discovered when staff heard them banging on a radiator to summon help, according to a complaint received by the State health watchdog, Hiqa.

The incident is among over 650 concerns and complaints reported to the authority about facilities for older people last year, which include multiple allegations of physical, verbal and sexual abuse.

They describe residents being "treated like prisoners" and "lying in their own waste" in filthy bedrooms, as well as documenting cases of unexplained injuries allegedly being covered up by management and staff.

The litany of shocking reports also contains allegations of financial abuse and systematic overcharging of residents. Some were being charged for free religious services, while others incurred a fee for using more than five nappies.

Poor hygiene was a common cause of complaint. One complaint stated that the sink in a bedroom was "full of soiled and bloodied pads, and the room had an offensive odour, while blood marks covered the floor and equipment".

Another complainant reported finding a resident "covered in faeces" in a bedroom that stank of urine. "Full bottles of urine are constantly left on the resident's locker, and the floor is sticky and unclean," they said.

Inadequate assistance with personal hygiene was the subject of several complaints. In one instance, the same razor blade was used to shave all of the residents in a facility, and no towels were provided. "Instead, staff dried a resident with a T-shirt and then put the shirt on the resident," stated the report.

A number of complaints alleged that residents were not being provided with enough food and water. In one case, a resident suffered a broken bone that went undiagnosed for four days. The facility thought the resident required a psychiatric review, but it was later discovered they had been "hallucinating due to dehydration".

A number of reported deficiencies appear to be attributable to staff shortages at residential facilities. One complaint referred to residents being "put to bed early because there is inadequate staff to keep them safe". In order to do this, residents were given sleeping pills "earlier than they want, so that they're asleep by 8pm".

Several complainants alleged financial abuse in residential facilities for older people, including instances of "charging residents for appointments they do not attend".

There were also allegations that gifts brought by visitors including "personal belongings, treats and expensive toiletries" were going missing without any explanation from staff.

The complaints were released under the Freedom of Information Act. Hiqa said that it does not have a remit to investigate individual complaints. "Where Hiqa has concerns related to the safety of residents and the quality of care, providers are required to take immediate action", the watchdog said.


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