Failure to meet standards for nursing homes causing anxiety

Operators say dignity of residents being compromised because of State failure


The privacy and dignity of residents is being compromised by the HSE failing to comply with the HIQA standards in long-term residential facilities it runs, the representative group for private and voluntary nursing home sector has argued.

The Irish Times reported on Monday that the Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch had said it could cost in the region of €500 million over a number of years to upgrade or rebuild 11 public nursing homes .

The State will have to invest significant sums to refurbish or replace a number of publicly run residential facilities to meet new Hiqa standards scheduled to come into effect from this year. Otherwise some existing units could be prevented from accepting any further admissions.

An internal health service paper, obtained by The Irish Times, maintains that last November as part of discussions on the Government’s next capital programme, the Department of Health identified community nursing units – publicly operated nursing homes – as “an area of particular need”. The paper states that funding for 1,500 community care unit beds at a cost of €255 million was requested.

The chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland Tadhg Daly said: “The privacy and dignity of residents in some public nursing homes is being compromised because of State failure over a six year period to address its requirements to comply with the physical environment standards. Their deliberate ignoring of this impending issue has been reprehensible.”

“Despite being required by NTPF to provide care at rates that are up to 50 per cent below those provided to public counterparts together with the bank lending crisis and recession, private and voluntary nursing homes have invested significantly to ensure compliance with HIQA physical environment standards providing high quality person centred in a ‘home from home’ setting to over 22,000 residents.

“Two years ago the HSE publicly stated €834m would be required to maintain its provision and address capacity issues.

“The challenges facing the public sector in meeting the July 2015 physical environment standards have been well versed and long-standing. Short of a month before the deadline, the extent of the crisis in public nursing homes meeting the deadline that has been in place for six years is being further laid bare.

“This crisis has been fast coming down the track. It presents considerable, unwarranted uncertainty, worry and anxiety for thousands of older persons in HSE nursing homes.”