Widow of Meath nursing home resident queries findings of inspection report

Mary Bartley Meehan repeats call for independent inquiry into case of her late husband

The widow of a Co Meath nursing home resident transferred to hospital with an infestation of maggots in a wound has challenged the findings of a regulatory inspection report on the facility.

Mary Bartley Meehan, whose husband Ultan Meehan died in June two weeks after being moved from Kilbrew Nursing Home with infected cancerous facial wounds, repeated her call for an independent inquiry into how Mr Meehan was treated at the nursing home.

Ms Bartley Meehan has questioned how the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) could conclude in a report published on Thursday that overall care at Kilbrew was “of a good quality” when they found failings in wound management and six other areas of non-compliance.

“When you read the opening chapters of the report, you see a flowery introduction as to how good this care unit is, yet, when you look at all the areas that are non-compliant, it can be clearly seen that this is not the case,” she said.


Inspectors found that Kilbrew’s risk management policy was “not fully implemented in relation to a serious incident” and that “arrangements for the identification, recording, investigation and learning from a serious incident involving residents had not been adequately carried out”.

Hiqa found the records of the medical and nursing condition of residents and the details of their plan of care “did not accurately reflect the state of health and/or circumstances at the time” when it came to wound care management and daily nursing records.

“There was a delay in taking timely action to ensure that residents received appropriate medical care,” Hiqa said in the report after a pre-planned inspection on June 4th.

Inspectors also found “poor management of complaints” at the home and that current arrangements did not ensure that all residents had access to medical or specialist advice.

“If this unit was so good, why did they fall down on the most vital aspects of care?” asked Ms Bartley Meehan.

‘Acute pressure’

A spokesman for Kilbrew said that it noted “the areas of required improvement” set out by Hiqa and the regulator’s positive view on the “good quality of care provided to our residents”.

The nursing home declined to comment further, saying it needed to review the report ahead of making any further decisions or responses but added that it had already completed and implemented many of Hiqa’s requirements as set out in the report’s compliance form.

The Hiqa report says that the home has carried out a complete review to ensure timely access of residents to GPs and had reviewed and made changes to wound management record-keeping.

The home has also created new records for a “resident of concern” with names, phone numbers and emails for doctors and ambulances, and established new procedures to ensure that any family concerns regarding medical treatments are forwarded from Kilbrew to a GP in a timely manner.

In response previously to queries about Mr Meehan’s case it said it had tried to provide “the best of care to every resident” and that it came “under acute pressure in the midst of the pandemic”.

Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd said he had "serious concerns" about the inspection report and he believed the re-registration of the home by Hiqa for another three years last month was "unacceptable" in light of the criticisms.

Aontú leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín told the Dáil on Thursday that the Minister and Department of Health, the HSE and Hiqa had "all refused to investigate what happened" to Mr Meehan. The party has called on the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the case, noting the Government had agreed in the programme for government to extend the remit of the office to cover clinical judgment.

Internal HSE figures put confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths at Kilbrew during the pandemic at 15.

Kilbrew declined to comment on the HSE’s internal figure on confirmed or probable Covid-19 deaths “in deference to the families and others who have had to endure a lot”.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent