Almost 50 nursing homes risk denial of registration due to building standards

Majority of centres that require capital investment are either operated or funded by the HSE

To date Hiqa has had to request six nursing homes  to reduce the number of residents they take in to secure re-registration.

To date Hiqa has had to request six nursing homes to reduce the number of residents they take in to secure re-registration.

 

Almost 50 nursing homes are at risk of being denied re-registration due to the buildings failing to meet required standards, the health and safety watchdog has warned.

A nursing home must be registered with the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) in order to be allowed to operate. In March, Hiqa sent a briefing note to the Minister for Health Simon Harris warning of issues relating to the suitability of the centres due to their construct infringing on the “privacy, dignity and safety of patients”.

Hiqa said that the way in which the centres were built means residents typically experience institutional care, with people having to live in multi-occupancy rooms, have a service which dictates when they get out of bed and can get a meal, and staff who are overly risk-averse and cannot support people to live meaningful lives.

The correspondence, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, states there was a risk in 2015 that the failure to comply with regulations would “result in the closure of a number of nursing homes across the country”.

To avoid this the government introduced an extension until 2021 to allow the services to carry out extensive capital works and come into compliance with directives pertaining to the physical environment and bedroom sizes.

However, at least 45 residential centres for older persons have now informed Hiqa that it is unlikely they will meet this deadline, putting their registration at risk.

“It is now becoming apparent that agreed plans for particular centres are either not happening at all or are not advancing at the required pace,” the briefing note states. “Thus there is now an impending risk that a number of centres will be in breach of the conditions of their registration, which could result in the cancellation of their registration.”

A reduction in the number of beds in centres could result in the non-compliant centres being brought back into compliance and being permitted to continue operating, a spokeswoman for Hiqa said.

However, this will have an impact on the capacity of the sector. To date Hiqa has had to request six centres to reduce the number of residents they take in to secure re-registration.

Chief inspector

The majority of the centres that require capital investment are either operated or funded by the HSE.

“It is of concern to the chief inspector that the HSE’s service plan for 2019 makes little reference to any plan for substantial capital investment in designated centres,” the correspondence said.

“For example, there is no mention in the section on older person’s services of any capital programme to bring centres into compliance with regulations by the 2021 deadline.”

A spokeswoman with the HSE said the executive was currently in the process of implementing its capital programme for residential services for older people, and it had seen a “significant progression of refurbishment”.

“This capital programme commenced in 2016, and in its lifetime from 2016-2021, a value of over €500 million was assigned for this particular purpose, including the build/refurbishment of approximately 90 centres requiring such upgrading of infrastructure.”

The spokeswoman added that the HSE would continue to work with Hiqa where any issues of concern were raised in a centre.