Our most Vulnerable, Ireland’s Scandal and Shame; there Should be a Public Enquiry into this? Too many lives lost, Families Cry out for Answers?

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Hiqa receives 400
          'concerns' about nursing home residents during Covid third
Issues about staff, poor staffing levels, poor communications and worries about inadequate infection control measures feature prominently, with 82 concerns raised about poor communications. File picture: PA

Tue, 04 May, 2021 – 07:07  

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has received 400 “concerns” from the public about the treatment of residents in nursing homes during the third wave of Covid-19.

The health watchdog received the contacts between November 1, 2020, and March 22, this year. As well as what it called “concerns”, it also received calls for investigations into various nursing homes.

These included calls for a probe into Ballynoe Nursing home in Glanmire, Co Cork.

At least 21 residents died there during an outbreak that hit the home in January and February. It was the subject of an inspection at that point, the report from which is to be published in a matter of weeks.

A group of relatives of those who died there have since grouped together to sue the home.

One of the biggest areas of concern raised by relatives of nursing home residents since last November has been “quality of care”.

Some 113 concerns were raised about this issue alone.

Issues about staff, poor staffing levels, poor communications and worries about inadequate infection control measures also feature prominently, with 82 concerns raised about poor communications.

Poor end-of-life care

Others included complaints about poor end-of-life care provision, social isolation, governance and safeguarding.

Hiqa is responsible for the monitoring, inspection and registration of nursing homes.

It does not have a remit to investigate individual complaints but says all unsolicited information is used to “inform Hiqa’s monitoring of each residential centre”.

Where it has concerns about the safety of residents and the quality of care they are receiving, providers are required to take immediate action to address this.

Where there are risks to the safety of residents or where the provider has failed to address areas of concern repeatedly, Hiqa can take escalated action, up to and including court action to cancel the registration of the centre.

The Irish Examiner recently revealed that more people died in nursing homes in the third wave than in the first two combined.

The death toll currently sits at just over 2,000.

Róisín Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats said: “It appears no lessons were learned by the Government during the first and second waves in the nursing homes.

“Successive Governments have kept social care at arm’s length through its increasing privatisation, and it has contributed to the situation we now find ourselves in – where our older people have been failed in the worst health crisis the world has seen in generations.”

Two of the country’s leading coroners in Cork and Louth are considering holding inquests into nursing home Covid-19 deaths following appeals from families who lost loved ones.

Cork South coroner Frank O’Connell is investigating concerns raised about deaths in Ballynoe.

He said there was “every chance” he will investigate other deaths if he receives other allegations and there is substance to them.‘We had to watch through a window to just look at her lying there taking her last breath’

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