Hiqa criteria boost nursing home image, report reveals
Arduous regulations since the Leas Cross scandal have added to public confidence,, writes PAUL CULLEN, Health Correspondent
NURSING HOMES enjoy greater public confidence as a result of the new system of regulation introduced in 2009, a new report argues.
However, those operating or managing homes expressed frustration at the standards imposed on them by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), according to the report by the National Economic and Social Council.
Areas singled out for criticism include the lack of standardised data to allow comparisons of the quality of care in different centres, and the lack of guidance from the authority on the best ways for nursing homes to meet the standards.
“Managers find this frustrating as it means they have to devote a substantial amount of resources to meeting the standards, without being sure if they are doing the right thing to meet them.”
Centre managers also said they found it difficult and time-consuming to fully implement the requirement to collect and analyse data on risks such as patient falls and infections.
Overall, people working in the sector felt the increased quality of care and confidence in the sector outweighed the cost of bringing in the standards, the report says.
It suggests the cost of implementing the Hiqa standards yielded business benefits, as well as wider social benefits for older people and their families.
However, the cost challenges were different for private and public centres, mainly because public nursing homes tended to have older premises and were affected by the public sector staff embargo.
Dr Anne-Marie McGauran, the author of the report, acknowledged that implementing the Hiqa standards could be challenging for nursing homes.
“Nursing home managers must collect data to monitor the health of, and risks to, residents. This is a new and sometimes time-consuming requirement.
“There may also be a need to find resources to improve premises, for training and for staff.”
The report recommends setting up a problem-solving group involving public and private nursing homes, the Department of Health and Hiqa. This would attempt to address the challenge of providing quality care for older people in the economic downturn.
About 21,000 people are in long-stay residential care, two-thirds of whom are in private homes and 28 per cent in centres run by the Health Service Executive.
Hiqa was set up after the Leas Cross scandal to inspect all homes to ensure they comply with agreed standards of care.
Since 2009, at least 11 centres out of 594 have been closed for failing to meet these standards.