The Health Service Executive (HSE) is to undertake a wider review of nursing home residents’ records in a care home where a staff member raped one resident in 2020. The review will involve examining the 16 years the man worked in the home.
The staff member was jailed for 11 years for the rape of the resident, who is known by the pseudonym Emily and died in 2021.
An independent report, published on Friday, said it was “highly probable” that a wider review into the records of other nursing home residents would indicate further incidents or indicators of “possible harm”.
A previous governance review into the HSE-run home where Emily was sexually assaulted found other residents alleged similar incidents involving the same healthcare worker, but these were not followed up.
Due to time constraints, a previous initial examination of 79 other residents’ files could only review 32 cases, with social workers referring 21 safeguarding concerns to gardaí following the review.
The latest report, conducted by safeguarding expert Jackie McIlroy, stated that limiting the scope of the previous review of residents’ records had been a “missed opportunity” for the HSE.
“The file review could have provided timely information on the nature and extent of possible harm caused to residents and whilst pertinent information relevant to the findings was still fresh in the minds of staff, residents and families,” she wrote.
“This view has been shared with HSE senior management who agree that opportunities to gain timely information were missed,” the report stated.
The perpetrator, who cannot be named due to a court order, is identified as Mr Z and had worked in the nursing home for 16 years.
Ms McIlroy said in her opinion “a further examination of individual records is warranted and this should cover the period of Mr Z’s employment”.
While a wider review of residents’ files might likely be “inconclusive”, it had the potential to cause “distress” to families, the report said.
“However, we can use the learning to minimise the risks for other residents in residential facilities throughout Ireland,” it said.
The HSE should ask residents or their relatives whether they wished for their records to be included in any further review, the report said.
Ms McIlroy said the views of families and staff she spoke to ranged from some who questioned the purpose of reopening further records, to others calling for a full, transparent investigation.
HSE chief executive Bernard Gloster said it was currently looking at how it would conduct a wider review.
“Mr Z worked at this unit for 16 years, and over that period of time several hundred residents were cared for there,” he said.
“We are currently developing a process to undertake this review and intend to write to the families of all residents at this unit during the period of Mr Z’s employment. We intend to do this in collaboration with residents or where appropriate their next of kin,” he said.
“We absolutely recognise how difficult and distressing this will be for families and we are committed to undertaking this process as sensitively and compassionately as possible,” he said.
“We will ensure that we work closely with families throughout this process and provide them with any necessary supports,” he said.
Mr Gloster said he wanted to reiterate his “deepest apologies” to the family of Emily, over the “horrific” attack.