Dublin nursing home residents ‘going up to two weeks without a shower’ due to lack of staff, inspection finds

Wexford nursing home resident was unable to get out of locked room, separate inspection found

A resident in a HSE-run nursing home in Co Wexford was staying in a locked room and was unable to let themself out, an inspection by a health watchdog has found.

Meanwhile, in a Dublin nursing home, some residents were “going up to two weeks without a shower” due to insufficient staff numbers.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) on Monday published a series of inspection reports, including one following an unannounced inspection in January at St John’s Community Hospital in Enniscorthy.

The inspectors found an activities room in one of the wards was being used as a bedroom for a resident who had tested positive for Covid-19.


“Access to the room from the corridor was through a coded lock. While the room was not locked from the inside, the door could only be opened by turning the top latch and bottom latch simultaneously,” the report states. “The inspector observed the resident trying unsuccessfully to leave the room but they did not appear to be able to do so.”

There was another door from the activities room that led directly to a secure outdoor space, the report notes. “This door was locked with a key and a staff member confirmed to the inspector that this was so that residents could not access the outdoor area independently. A second door leading to the outdoor space from the adjacent sittingroom was similarly locked, meaning that these residents did not have access to outdoor space.”

The inspection report was one of 50 published by Hiqa on Monday. Of those, 13 centres were found to be non-compliant with three regulations or less, while 11 centres were non-compliant with four or more regulations.

In these inspections, noncompliance was identified in areas including: staffing, training and staff development, records, governance and management, notification of incidents, premises, food and nutrition, infection control, fire precautions, individual assessment and care plans, healthcare and residents’ rights.

At the Tara Winthrop Private Clinic in Dublin, residents raised concerns about staffing levels and reported being unable to access assistance.

“Residents and visitors reported that there was insufficient staff to assist residents with having showers when they wanted to shower, resulting in some of them, at times, going up to two weeks without a shower,” the report states. “However, resident’s were offered body washes during this time which was not their preferred choice.”

Furthermore, the inspectors also heard concerns about delays in staff answering call bells, with one resident saying they did not use the call bell as there was “no point”.

“A resident described having to phone their relative to phone the centre to get assistance from staff at night time as their call bell was not answered,” the report adds.

Inspectors also highlighted concerns around fire safety. “Inappropriate storage of combustible materials alongside flammable items was identified.”

The premises inspected submitted action plans to Hiqa to come into compliance with the regulations, including the changing of locks to allow residents access to the garden area.

A spokeswoman for Tara Winthrop said the challenges posed by Covid-19 has “affected its ability to retain key staff” but it has undertaken work in recent months to address noncompliance.

“Recent senior appointments, including a new director of nursing, highlight our dedication to continuous improvement. Our management is proactive in pursuing improvements outlined in our action plan submitted to Hiqa, with progress reported regularly,” the spokeswoman said.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times