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Nursing homes: Almost half of HSE-run homes are failing when it comes to Garda vetting

Health watchdog found that HSE-run care homes were breaching Garda-vetting rules.

The new HIQA report was published today.
The new HIQA report was published today.
Image: Shutterstock/LeventeGyori

OVER 50% OF HSE-run care homes inspected in 2018 failed to meet Garda vetting requirements, according to a new report by the health watchdog. 

A report by health watchdog Hiqa, which is responsible for the monitoring and inspection of nursing homes in Ireland, found that in 21 out of 40 HSE care homes inspected in 2018 failed to meet Garda vetting requirements for staff. 

The report, published today, found that despite the HSE instructing all care homes to make vetting disclosures available on site in July 2018, Hiqa inspectors repeatedly found that vetting documentation for staff was lacking. 

All staff and volunteers working in a nursing home and in contact with older or vulnerable adults are required to be vetted by Gardaí for any criminal record. However, some Irish care homes have failed to meet these requirements. 

While 80% of all care homes met Garda vetting requirements for staff, the report notes that HSE nursing homes were much more likely to be non-compliant.

Mary Dunnion, Hiqa’s Director of Regulation and Chief Inspector of Social Services, said in a statement that people should “expect to receive safe care that meets their specific needs”. 

“Many vulnerable older people continue to receive care in a physical environment that is not conducive to providing care in a dignified, safe and personalised manner,” she said.

“Some nursing homes are still failing to meet basic requirements, such as protecting residents from the risk of fire and ensuring they are afforded adequate space, privacy and dignity,” Dunnion added. 

With over 31,000 people living in Irish nursing homes, centres are repeatedly inspected and scrutinised for breaches of healthcare regulations. 

In January, TheJournal.ie reported details of multiple allegations against nursing homes in Ireland in relation to poor hygiene standards and staffing issues. 

Poor premises

These latest figures show that 43% of all nursing homes inspected in 2018 were failing to run their premises in a way that is “appropriate to the number and needs of residents”. 

“Failing to conform to premises regulations means that the people who live in these
centres experience a poor quality of life,” the report found. 

It is simply unacceptable that some of the most vulnerable people in Ireland continued to live in centres where the care culture allowed residents to spend their entire day confined to bed, with no independence of movement, no access to their own belongings, isolated dining experiences and not being able to join in or observe activities.

The report pointed to centres where residents have little privacy, cannot personalise their living space and cannot choose the time they get up or eat their meals. 

Hiqa suggested moving residents from homes with a history of failing to meet the required standards for physical premises, as well as recommending greater investment in care home infrastructure. 

The report found that only 23% of nursing homes inspected in 2018 were fully compliant with all Hiqa regulations – a decline from 27% in 2017. In 2018, over 75% of all nursing homes were inspected by Hiqa. 

The Hiqa review also noted that nearly 20% of all nursing homes inspected were not fully compliant with training and staff development regulations. 

“Going forward, Hiqa will continue to focus on areas on concern to ensure that service providers are meeting the needs of the people who live in nursing homes,” Dunnion said. 

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