Co Mayo nursing home failed to manage Covid-19 outbreak – regulator

Hiqa found safety of residents at Ballina home was ‘significantly compromised’

Only one staff member was assigned to cleaning duties at the home during the outbreak at St Augustine’s Community Nursing Unit in Ballina. Photograph: Google Street View

Only one staff member was assigned to cleaning duties at the home during the outbreak at St Augustine’s Community Nursing Unit in Ballina. Photograph: Google Street View


A publicly-run nursing home in Co Mayo failed to manage a Covid-19 outbreak and risked spreading the disease to virus-free areas, a report by the State’s health watchdog has found.

The Health Information and Quality Authority discovered during an unannounced inspection on October 29th last year that there was just one staff member assigned to cleaning duties at the home during the outbreak at St Augustine’s Community Nursing Unit in Ballina.

At the time of the inspection, 22 residents out of a total of 26 living in the home and 26 staff had tested positive for Covid-19 in the outbreak, which was still active when Hiqa inspectors visited.

Inspectors found that the quality and safety of residents was “significantly compromised” by inadequate oversight of infection prevention and control practices and procedures.

The inspection was carried out after concerns were raised about management at the home.

The report into the HSE-run long-term care facility in Co Mayo was one of 35 inspection reports into nursing homes published by Hiqa. The regulator found non-compliance with health regulations in 23 nursing homes, including in the areas of healthcare and infection control.

Inspectors found on the day of the inspection at St Augustine’s that the home had been subdivided into two areas, one with infected Covid-19 residents and a Covid-free area.

However, inspectors found that arrangements to ensure no crossover of staff between the two areas were “not effective” and the risk of “Covid-19 cross infection was not controlled.”

The facility’s front entrance and reception were located in the Covid-19 positive zone but there were no signs to redirect essential visits to the Covid-19 free zone which had a separate entrance.

The Covid area had one staff cleaner, while another staff member had been asked to clean floors in the Covid-free area but there was no cleaner for other areas and equipment in this zone.

“The entire centre and equipment could not be cleaned to the standard required during a Covid-19 outbreak by one person who was redeployed into a cleaning role,” the report said.

Hiqa said that there had been no “person in charge” at the centre between August 2020 and October 19th, 2020 – just 10 days before the inspection – and that the lack of a “consistent person in charge” in the weeks leading up to the outbreak contributed to problems discovered at the home.


The HSE-run nursing home was found to be non-compliant under six regulations, including infection control, healthcare, and governance and management.

“Management systems in place did not ensure that the Covid-19 outbreak in the centre was effectively managed and infection prevention and control in the centre was appropriately monitored,” said the Hiqa inspection report.

“Senior management had failed to adequately oversee and support the staff on the ground to ensure the safety of the service during this Covid-19 outbreak.”

At another nursing home, Brookvale Manor in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, inspectors found on a return visit following an earlier Covid-19 outbreak that the privately run nursing home still had poor contingency plans in place to ensure adequate staffing in the event of a second outbreak.

Hiqa found that during an unannounced inspection on November 9th last the care home, run by private operator Brindley Healthcare, had failed to increase staff numbers in line with their own assessment needs following a previous inspection in June of last year during an outbreak.

At another publicly-run facility, St Joseph’s Care Centre in Longford, the HSE’s failure to carry out a refurbishment had left “significant non-compliances” with fire safety regulations and that an urgent action plan was required to ensure the safety of 61 residents living at the home.

The latest Hiqa reports reveal details severe Covid-19 outbreaks at some nursing homes.

Glengara Park Nursing Home in Dún Laoghaire experienced an outbreak in late March 2020 the led to 27 residents and 26 staff becoming infected and the deaths of seven residents.

Anam Cara Nursing Home in Glasnevin, Dublin suffered an outbreak in April 2020 where nine residents were hospitalised out of a total of 11 infected residents. The outbreak led to three deaths.

Twenty staff at the home became sick or had to self-isolate due to exposure to the virus.