Increase in nursing home abuse allegations

The number of allegations of suspected or confirmed abuse of older people in nursing homes jumped by almost 20% last year.

According to the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (Hiqa) 2015 overview report of nursing home inspections in 2015, some 424 notifications of allegations of abuse were received, compared to 357 in 2014 — an increase of almost 19%.

Some 967 notifications of an unexpected death of any resident were received — up from 625 in 2014.

Hiqa received 4,155 reports of an injury to a resident that required medical and/or hospital treatment in 2015. However, it stressed there is evidence of over-reporting by centres, as just 54% required hospital treatment, while 95% of these were rated as of minor/moderate risk.

There were 137 reports of unexplained absence of a resident from a nursing home, up from 122 in 2014.

Increase in nursing home abuse allegations

There is a total of 577 centres providing 30,106 residential beds here.

A total of 411 nursing home inspections were carried out last year in 343 registered residential centres across the country, with almost half of all inspections being unannounced.

Some 59% of all registered centres received an inspection in 2015. Of the centres that received an inspection, 84% received one inspection, 13% received two inspections, and 3% received three or more inspections.

The chief inspector with Hiqa, Mary Dunnion, said good levels of compliance with regulations relating healthcare, food, and nutrition and end-of-life care were found in the centres inspected.

“The provision of high-quality, safe service is found in centres where managers, providers, and persons in charge continually look for innovative ways to improve the evolving needs, preferences and rights of individual residents,” she said.

However, head of advocacy and communications at Age Action Ireland, Justin Moran, expressed concern at the substantial rise in reports of abuse in nursing homes.

“It is essential that all of these cases are reported to the HSE’s elder abuse caseworkers and properly investigated. We need a proactive approach to tackling elder abuse with more training for care staff and ensuring residents know how to report cases of suspected abuse,” said Mr Moran.

He also questioned why so many people are in nursing homes in the first place.

“Many older people need quality nursing home care, but thousands could be at home with their families and in their communities if the proper supports were provided,” said Mr Moran. “That’s what they want. It’s what the Government’s National Positive Ageing Strategy promises.”

“And it’s better value for money. The next government must prioritise investment in services that enable older people to stay home as long as possible and introduce a statutory right to community care.”

In a statement, Nursing Homes Ireland said the report highlighted high standards of care right across the nursing home sector which provides “reassurance for residents, their relatives and friends and wider public”.

“It is important to note the report focusses on areas requiring improvement and it states numerous specific examples of good practice in nursing home care are not documented within it, but published within individual inspection reports,” said a statement.

“It does provide an analysis of good practice, further endorsing high-quality care that is provided by dedicated, committed, and caring management and staff within nursing homes.”

Nursing Homes Ireland also highlighted the “critical issue” of adequate staffing levels in the sector and said it had recently engaged directly with Hiqa on the issue.


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