The HSE nursing homes that can't prove staff have been Garda vetted

Almost half of HSE-run nursing homes could not provide evidence last year that all their staff and volunteers were Garda vetted, a watchdog report has revealed.

The HSE runs one in five of the country’s nursing homes, caring for nearly 6,000 residents, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) said.

Hiqa’s 2018 overview report on nursing homes, based on 542 inspections, also found ongoing failures to protect residents from the risk of fire.

Hiqa chief inspector Mary Dunnion said: “Safeguarding is a basic function of any health or social care service. There is a clear obligation to have a Garda vetting disclosure for all staff and volunteers available for inspection in the nursing home.

“However, almost half of HSE services were failing to provide evidence of Garda vetting on inspection in 2018.”

She said once inspectors find a member of staff or volunteer without proof of vetting an action plan is issued to have them removed immediately until they get Garda clearance.

Compliance with the fire safety requirements of the care and welfare regulations were assessed during 275 inspections and 94, more than a third, were in breach.

Hiqa also warned that many residents with medical cards are not getting the supports, such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy, they are entitled to.

This can affect their independence and mean they cannot get out of bed.

Some nursing home owners are having to privately hire the therapists and pass on the cost to the resident, who is therefore faced with the choice or paying or seeing their health deteriorate.

In response, Tadhg Daly, chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, representing private providers, said: “We welcome Hiqa’s statement that residents should not be in any way disadvantaged by virtue of living in a nursing home.

“Services that they could avail of free in charge in the community should be equally available to them in a nursing home.”

Hiqa also said there continued to be failures to provide residents with dignity and privacy in several HSE homes which needed refurbishment and updating.

“Inspectors continued to see centres where residents’ rights to dignity and privacy were not upheld in 2018,” said the report.

“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 independent movement, no access to their own belongings, isolated dining experiences and not being able to join in or observe activities.”

The report noted the trend towards opening centres with a large number of beds or residential places.

“Smaller nursing homes often epitomise the person-centred ethos of a home for an older person and are generally located near the person’s community.”

There are more smaller nursing homes closing for reasons which include keeping them financially sustainable.

Mr Daly said: “For the second year running, Hiqa said the present funding model is resulting in the closure of nursing homes.

“The Government is standing idly by and allowing dedicated care providers in our local communities to close their doors.”

Two years have now passed since the deadline for completion of a pricing review of payments to nursing homes providing care under the Fair Deal scheme, he said.

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