Nursing home faced with threat of closure


A CORK nursing home, found to have been overcrowded and otherwise seriously in breach of health board regulations, has been given until March 31st next to comply, or else face closure.

At a news conference in Cork yesterday, the chief executive of the Southern Health Board (SHB), Mr Sean Hurley, set out "the problems at the Woburn Retirement Home.

Mr Hurley warned that, if it did not come up to standard, the home could be deregistered.

Asked why, in view of the fact that the SHB subvention to the home is £120,000 a year, steps were not taken earlier to close it or force it to comply, Mr Hurley said the board had acted quickly once the complaints had been received.

He said that, following the publication of the report on Woburn, the health board has moved to ensure that in future, all nursing homes in its administrative area will be more rigorously inspected and, policed. A team established to investigate the home on the outskirts of the city had found in its report that it was in breach of a number of requirements under nursing home legislation.

They included accommodating 40 residents although the home was registered only or 29 inadequate staffing levels, and the absence of a qualified nurse on duty for a quarter of the time during the period reviewed, the absence of an up to date certificate of compliance with fire precaution requirements, inadequate insurance cover keeping two patients in an attic section of the premises, inadequate payroll records unacceptable or incorrect details of the qualifications held by nursing home staff and an inadequate supply of incontinence sheets and pads.

Yesterday, Mr Patrick Dorgan, the solicitor acting for the proprietor, Ms Siobhan Lyons, said he was satisfied that adequate insurance cover did exist up to £1 million for individual claims.

In respect of fire precautions, Ms Lyons was a victim of a difference of opinion between the fire authorities in Cork and the SHB.

He added that while Ms Lyons had complied with the SHB requirements in this area, the fire authorities had insisted on a separate approach, leaving her quandary. For legal reasons, he added, he would not be commenting on the other specific points raised, in the report.

The independent inquiry team was set up on October 23rd of last year because of complaints received by the SHB from Fianna, Fail TD Mr Batt O'Keeffe and Councillor Con O'Leary.

The team interviewed 13 people and received 29 submissions of which 15 were complaints and 14 were favourable. Of the 15 complaints, one complainant withdrew nine refused to grant consent for a copy of their complaints to be furnished to the home one was found to be outside the rem it of the inquiry, while the remaining four referred, to levels of patient care, adequacy of diet, and care of clothing and personal belongings.

Mr Hurley said that on two occasions, during May and September of last year, SHB officials inspected the home. During the first visit, they observed over crowding and noted that on the second, the same conditions existed.

It was also the ease, he added, that the proprietor had carried out many improvements since the first visit of the officials.

He went on "I have now written to the home, demanding that all the necessary requirements are met by March 31st next. If they are not met, it is open to the board to deregister the home, effectively closing it.

In a statement welcoming the report, Ms Lyons said yesterday that the number of submissions made to the inquiry in her favour vastly outnumbered the few complaints received. She added that the report had focused almost exclusively on technical breaches of the regulations during a short period in the eight years during which the home had been operating.

"However, the report findings provided a useful blueprint for implementing further improvements to maintain the home at the forefront of nursing home developments", the statement said.