Poor governance putting people in residential care at risk

Serious shortcomings in governance and safeguarding continue to put at risk adults and children in residential care, the State’s health services watchdog has warned.

The Health Information and Quality Authority says some services must take safeguarding more seriously and ensure all staff and volunteers are Garda-vetted.

Hiqa’s director of regulation and chief inspector of social services, Mary Dunnion, said a review of inspections in 2017 showed that compliance with the regulations had increased.

She said providers must have strong governance and management arrangements in place to ensure the safety and quality of their service.

“Service providers also need to assure themselves of the safety and quality of their service through audit, rather than relying on Hiqa inspectors to find non-compliance,” she said.

“Hiqa also encountered services where safeguarding was not sufficiently strong and comprehensive.

Too many providers of social care services are failing in their duty to safeguard people in care and ensure that individual rights are upheld.

Three residential services for people with disabilities had their registration cancelled last year due to poor governance and persistent non-compliance with the regulations.

The report found that the level of compliance reflected the length of time a sector had been regulated.

Nursing homes have been regulated by Hiqa since 2009 and providers now have a good deal of experience in implementing the regulations.

There was an increase from 15% in 2016 to 27% in 2017 of all inspected centres found to be fully compliant.

However, Hiqa continues to find nursing homes where residents’ rights to dignity and privacy are not upheld and remained concerned that some homes were, last year, operating without a designated person in charge.

“This is not acceptable and we have taken action where appropriate,” said the authority.

Residential disability centres have been regulated by the authority since 2013, and while there is a good level of compliance, some continue to struggle to meet the basic requirements to be registered.

At the end of 2017, a total of 178 of the 1,110 centres had not shown a sufficient level of compliance.

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