HSE accused of reneging on promise to investigate home

ADVOCATES of the elderly are concerned that health chiefs are rolling back on a promise to independently investigate practices at a Co Clare public nursing home.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) originally promised complaints about Cappahard Lodge by patients’ relatives and staff would be probed in an external review.

The daughters of deceased resident Gerald Finn have been told the HSE will consider their concerns, while the external probe will focus on policies and procedures.

Solicitors for daughter Lourda Finn were recently told by letter the inquiry, announced in July, would be a two-step process.

In a letter to solicitors of Ms Finn and her sister Sharon on October 5, the chair of the external probe, Dr Donald Lyons, confirmed his team would not handle complaints about Cappahard Lodge.

“I wish to confirm that we are reviewing policy and procedure documents and will, following that, decide what questions we need to ask and of whom. This is a separate process from the complaints process.”

Lourda Finn said yesterday the HSE was backtracking on the agreed inquiry.

“The trust in care process for me is the HSE ran this centre and it is them investigating themselves. I see this as a cover-up, a whitewash.”

Concerns about Mr Finn’s care when he was at the home include bruising on his body and questions over his medication.

Reach Out, a group highlighting elderly abuse, said the HSE had made structural and care changes at Cappahard Lodge since the review was announced. Spokesman Jack Keaveney said a diluted inquiry would fail to note past concerns.

“It is a watering-down. It bears no relationship to what was originally promised. I sort of see a whitewash. Given his terms of reference, that’s all Dr Lyons can do.”

Amanda Phelan of Action on Elder Abuse, which tracked concerns at Cappahard Lodge, said independent answers were needed.

Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd said any “watering down” of the inquiry was “unacceptable”.

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