Nursing home residents left sitting at table for six hours

Watchdog hears complaint that tea served in dining room only because inspectors present

One relative said that her mother was still in bed at 2pm one day, while another stated that she had to clean the resident’s nails when visiting. File photograph: Getty

One relative said that her mother was still in bed at 2pm one day, while another stated that she had to clean the resident’s nails when visiting. File photograph: Getty

 

Residents at a nursing home in Cork were left sitting at a table for six hours for an activity that had been cancelled, and informed the State’s health watchdog that they were only having tea in the dining room because inspectors were present.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) on Thursday published 34 inspection reports on residential centres for older people. Inspectors found evidence of non-compliance in 14 centres in respect of regulations and standards.

In the course of an unannounced inspection at Cobh Community Hospital on January 23rd and 24th inspectors met with a large group of residents. While the majority said they enjoyed living in the centre, several raised concerns around staff shortages.

The centre provides 24-hour nursing care to people of Cobh and the surrounding areas. It is run by a voluntary board of management that provides support to staff and a large cohort of community volunteers in caring for 44 older adults.

What the residents said

Residents told inspectors of one occasion on which they had expectations that an activity had been organised. “Family members had come in to support residents and had brought in prizes,” said the inspectors.

“No staff member informed them that there had been a cancellation of the activity and the reason for this, and they were left sitting at the table from 11am until after tea at 5pm.

“They expressed their extreme disappointment to their relatives and to inspectors. They also informed inspectors that they usually spent teatime in the bedrooms and were only having tea in the dining room because inspectors were present.”

Inspectors generally found that the majority of residents were not facilitated to avail of the dining spaces or sitting rooms.

As found during previous inspections, the majority of residents sat by their beds during the day and for meals, resulting in their daily lives often being devoid of social events such as those presented by having meals together.

In response, Cobh Community Hospital said activities are now scheduled on a weekly basis and presently written on whiteboard in the residents’ bedrooms. It also said residents are kept informed should there be a known delay or cancellation of activity.

Residents also spoke about waiting a long time for their call bells to be answered. Staff shortages had a negative impact on care provision, cleaning arrangements and on social time which staff spent with residents.

Hiqa reaction to problems

Due to staff shortages and resultant lack of supervision not all residents were facilitated to get up in a timely manner or afforded showers.

One relative stated that her mother was still in bed at 2pm one day, while another stated that she had to clean the resident’s nails when visiting. One relative described how she had to shave the resident when visiting.

Another relative arranged for a private physiotherapist to come in due to lack of walking opportunities.

Hiqa said the centre had not ensured that the service provided met the needs of the residents living there, particularly in terms of the arrangement for governance and management, complaints management, infection control and staffing issues.

In response, Cobh Community Hospital said it had since recruited additional personnel to deal with staff shortages.

A newly appointed occupational therapist assesses activities of daily living and some activities, such as gardening or involvement in daily tasks are progressed with individual residents.