Hiqa will continue to monitor ‘institutional’ centre for older people

Hiqa has said it will continue to monitor a centre for older people that was the subject of a legal wrangle last year between the health watchdog and the HSE.

St Joseph’s Hospital, in Ennis, Co Clare, was the subject of a hugely critical Hiqa inspection report last year which said it “appeared institutional”. In what was understood to be the first case of its kind, the HSE had also appealed to the local district court after Hiqa had earlier made critical observations about the centre and had ordered that it stay closed to new admissions.

Following last year’s Hiqa report, the HSE hit back at elements of its findings and also wrote to the county’s elected representatives to reassure them about standards of care at the facility.

Three Hiqa inspections were carried out in April, September and November to inform court proceedings following the HSE appeal against restricting further admissions, and all three were published yesterday.

The November report showed that the facility, which had 90 residents, was substantially compliant with two standards that were assessed by inspectors, but was non-compliant in four standards, including two major non-compliances.

However, Hiqa said there had been “incremental improvements” in the culture of the centre, with the most significant improvements as a direct result of the reduction in the number of residents accommodated on two units, the Hazel and the Alder units.

But Hiqa said it had been told that the reduction in the number of residents and any improvements directly associated with the reduction were “temporary in nature”, and that there could be an increase in the number of residents — something that was “a source of anxiety” to existing residents and their families.

There was “further progress in eliminating some of those institutional practices identified on previous inspections”.

It said further work was required and as of last December the centre was registered with two additional conditions applied to its registration.

“The HSE must now progress their plans to replace this centre with a purpose-built centre within a defined time bound implementation plan,” Hiqa said.


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