The State’s healthcare regulator has raised “serious concerns” about the management of money belonging to residents in a Co Kerry nursing home run by the group Aperee.
A recent inspection found the private company was inappropriately using residents’ money to cover the ongoing costs of running the nursing home, before later topping the accounts back up.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) said Aperee Living Camp in Tralee, Co Kerry, had a “significant” list of creditors, several of whom had refused to provide further services until they were paid.
A report from Hiqa, published on Monday, said inspectors were “very concerned about the manner in which residents’ funds were being managed” in the nursing home.
The report said people who were not employees of the provider had “requested transfers of money”, which included residents’ funds, from the nursing home’s bank account to other accounts.
“No such authority was granted to people who were not employed by the registered provider to direct residents’ funds or for residents’ funds to be used for any other purpose than the residents’ own use,” the report said.
Last week Hiqa moved to shut down another home run by Aperee in Ballygunner, Co Waterford, due to “serious concerns about the care and welfare of residents”.
In early August the company announced it would be closing another one of its care homes in Belgooly, Co Cork, following a review of its business.
Aperee, which runs nine nursing homes, was founded by Cork-based investments firm BlackBee Group, but is currently owned by a wider cohort of investors.
The latest Hiqa report said the regulator was concerned about the provider’s ability to sustain a safe service for the 33 residents in Aperee Living Camp, Tralee.
Residents’ money was not being safeguarded or kept separate from the nursing home’s current account, the report said. The balance of the bank account “regularly” dropped below the collective amount owned by residents, it added.
A review of the account showed it also contained money belonging to nine residents who had died, which had not been returned to their estates.
The June 20th inspection criticised a failure to address “serious” first safety risks in the facility, which had been flagged as far back as October 2021.
Despite the regulator requiring works to be carried out to address the concerns by this February, inspectors found they had not begun.
Another inspection report published on Monday said “high risk” fire safety concerns remained unaddressed in an Aperee-run nursing home in Ballinasloe, Co Galway.
The report said at the time of the inspection on April 19th, the provider “had not taken adequate precautions to ensure that residents were protected from the risk of fire”.
There was an “insufficient” number of nurses working at the nursing home to meet appropriate staffing levels, it said.
The regulator also criticised the “inappropriate” management of residents’ funds at the nursing home.
It said €3,000 was waiting to be returned to the estates of deceased residents by Aperee, with the amount in the facility’s bank account dropping below that level on occasion.
“Should the monies be called for by the residents estate, there were regular occasions where the balance of the current account meant this money would not have been available,” the report said.
In a statement, Aperee said it had responded in detail to Hiqa and continued to work closely with the regulator.
“We can confirm that all relevant policies have been updated and all residents’ finances have always been, and will continue to be, fully protected,” it said.
“We have engaged and will continue to engage with residents and families at Aperee Living’s nursing homes to directly address any concerns they may have,” it said.