Working life: Mary O’Mahony, inspector of adult social services, Hiqa

Mary O'Mahony

As lead inspector for 30 designated centres for older adults I spend a lot of time on the road, mainly in Cork and Kerry. 

Each morning I take the dog for a walk. My daughters have moved out so he is spoilt with attention.


This morning’s inspection is unannounced. Having introduced myself to the person in charge we discuss residents’ care, staffing and incidents. Hiqa’s aim is to drive continual improvement and to promote safety and quality in the provision of health and social services.


The person in charge joins me on a walk of the premises. I look for good practice and areas needing improvement. I assess health and safety, staff interaction and residents’ wellbeing. I observe if independence, privacy and dignity is promoted.

12 noon

I chat with residents. Their experience is central to the inspection process. I talk to kitchen staff about their knowledge of residents’ dietary requirements. I ask care staff about training, for example, in safeguarding residents and in dementia care.


I go out for lunch, depending on location.


I examine care plans to ensure residents’ holistic needs are met. The most effective plans are developed with their involvement and are personalised. I examine documents like staff files and policies.


I ask relatives if they are happy with the way complaints are handled — a good indicator of openness and approachability. I observe activities to assess if these are meaningful to residents. The social aspect of residents’ lives is important.


I have a cup of tea with residents and ask them about life in the centre, if they are involved in meetings and have access to an advocate. We discuss medical care, family visits and staffing. I speak with administration staff about residents’ finances and talk with management about fire safety and resources. I write up my notes.


Once the inspection is finished, I provide staff with feedback. If it’s a two-day inspection, I stay overnight locally. I write the report at the office in City Gate and catch up with emails, team meetings and notifications from my centres.

I enjoy travelling, walking, reading, family and meeting friends, during downtime.

Mary O’Mahony, inspector of adult social services, Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa)


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