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HSE CEO informed of serious nursing home issues

HIQA’s CEO wrote to the head of the HSE to outline serious concerns about the registration of seven nursing homes, the Medical Independent (MI) can reveal. In a letter to Mr Paul Reid on 27 June, obtained by MI through Freedom of Information law, Mr Phelim Quinn referenced a meeting with the HSE CEO in which it was agreed to discuss specific issues relating to older persons’ residential services.  A briefing paper, prepared by HIQA’s Chief Inspector of Social Services Ms Mary Dunnion and attached to the letter, stated that the current situation in seven nursing homes “cannot continue”.

“HSE representatives in each CHO [Community Healthcare Organisation] area and HSE estates have placed excessive emphasis on the role of the national capital plan in improving quality-of-life for residents and achieving regulatory compliance,” according to the briefing paper.  “This stated approach is contrary to discussions with the HSE executive team.”

A statutory instrument in 2016 (SI 293) allowed registered providers until the end of 2021 to demonstrate compliance with certain regulations on the care and welfare of nursing home residents. However, HIQA’s Chief Inspector (CI) did not accept that SI 293 negated the HSE’s responsibility to achieve regulatory compliance and ensure privacy and dignity are optimised. The CI considered “that the HSE has had adequate time to address institutionalised practices and areas of identified repeated regulatory non-compliance”, outlined the briefing paper.

In the interim of the capital investment plan, significant improvement in the quality-of-life of residents could be achieved by “robustly addressing institutionalised care practices through staff supervision, training and performance management” and/or “reconfiguring the internal space to optimise the wellbeing of residents”.

Improvement in quality-of-life could also be achieved by reducing the number of residents.

“In reaching this opinion, the CI is aware of vacancy rates of up to 10 per cent in some of these centres and further capacity to comfortably accommodate residents in nursing homes with a history of regulatory compliance in many of the CHO areas.”

A HIQA spokesperson said the regulatory process regarding the status of these centres is “ongoing”.

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