Hiqa received 12 complaints of sexual or physical abuse in nursing homes over past year

Hiqa received 12 complaints of sexual or physical abuse in nursing homes over past year

The health watchdog has received 12 complaints of sexual or physical assaults in Irish nursing homes over the past year.

According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, a further 12 reports of abuse have been made.

Hiqa received 557 complaints about the care of elderly people in nursing homes between May 2018 and May 2019 – three relating to sexual assaults.

There is a report that care-assistants were physically and emotionally abusive towards residents, while there are several complaints of financial abuse.

A resident was said to have needed stitches after a number of physical assaults by another resident.

While many of the assaults are blamed on residents with challenging behaviour, several allegations of abuse are made against staff.

The making of a complaint doesn't necessarily mean the allegation is true.

Twelve complaints relate to the circumstances of residents' deaths.

A resident's family claims their loved one's death was caused by strong medication that was prescribed for another end-of-life resident being mistakenly given to them.

In a statement, Hiqa says it does not have a remit to investigate individual complaints, but all unsolicited information received is used to inform the authority’s monitoring of each residential centre.

The HSE says more than 23,000 people currently live in residential care and their ongoing safety, comfort and welfare is paramount.

Sinn Féin's health spokesperson, Louise O'Reilly, said a shortage of staff is contributing to the complaints.

She said: "The high level of assaults while it is somewhat shock is not really that surprising and a lot of them are related to short staffing I think is unfortunately predictable.

"We have a recruitment and retention crisis within all elements of our health services and nowhere is it more obvious than in our nursing home sector."

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