Concerns Raised Over Nursing Homes

The Government has been accused of political interference with independent regulation and of exploiting the care and welfare requirements of older people for political purposes.

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) also questioned the impartiality of Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) as an independent regulator.

NHI was responding to Parliamentary Statement in Dáil Éireann 4th November by Minister Kathleen Lynch about the Physical Environment Standards deadline applied under HIQA's National Quality Standards for Residential Care for Older People in Ireland.

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO said: "The statement in Dáil Éireann by Minister Lynch that "it is now possible to set revised policy and outline a revised timeframe" regarding compliance with HIQA's physical environment standards for all public and HSE voluntary nursing homes is a disgrace. This is shocking and unacceptable on a number of levels. Most of all it is shocking for up to 7,000 older people living in the 100+ public nursing homes that do not meet the national physical environment standards. It is appalling that our Government consider it acceptable that the older people in some public nursing homes should be consigned to live in physical environments that are not fit for purpose for a further 6 years.

"It begs the question are these National Standards not applicable for HSE homes? Minister Lynch informed the Dáil the 'revised policy' will ensure HSE nursing homes are compliant with the standards by 2021. Private and voluntary nursing homes incurred enormous expenses and considerable financial pressures to meet the Standard deadline of 1st July this year. An inability to meet the Physical Environment Standards and non-flexibility from the regulator led to the closure of some nursing homes. This deadline was set by HIQA with the introduction of the Standards in 2009. Given the severe pressures the deadline was placing upon private and voluntary nursing homes to secure required funding to carry out necessary works, NHI consistently stated the deadline had to be applied evenly to all nursing homes – be they public, private or voluntary. In January Minister Lynch said in an interview HIQA was agreeable to a time-bound plan for HSE units to meet national standards. HIQA denied any blanket guarantee had been entered into. Minister Lynch has now effectively announced a new policy in respect of compliance with physical environment standards for HSE nursing homes and the deadline for compliance has been extended for a further six years to 2021. This is 12 years post the introduction of the Standards and six years beyond the original deadline the Authority set for all nursing homes for compliance."


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