THE Hiqa report on how highly dependent older people are treated at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork is more an indictment of society than of the health professionals struggling to provide an optimal service in an entirely inappropriate setting.
The Hiqa inspectors, during an unannounced inspection, found that many of the residents at the complex were accommodated in dormitories where beds are so close together that residents are unable to undertake personal activities in private or meet relatives in private. The unannounced inspection last May found that 89 residents received a good standard of nursing and medical care but that significant improvements were required. Many residents are in multi-occupancy bedrooms, some of which have three, five and six beds.
We have been warned for many years that changing demographics — basically far more older people in a society with a lower ratio of workers — pose a real social and public health challenge. That so many of tomorrow’s elderly people will have to rely on greatly depleted pension pots and incomes will exacerbate the problem.
Despite these warnings of unnecessary hardships we seem unable to focus on planning to provide the services our demographics demand. We fight over a cent on tax rates, pretty moderate charges for water and on property but seem to lose sight of the bigger picture. And in this case it seems we may well reap our just rewards.
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