Dáil Éireann - Volume 594 - 02 December, 2004

Written Answers. - Nursing Homes.

  49. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that the powers available to the inspectors of nursing homes are adequate to guarantee the health and safety of residents, generally older persons; the type of problems that are being identified; the action that is being taken to address these problems; the number of court actions pending; and the details of the nursing homes in question. [31580/04]

  Ms Harney: The inspection of private nursing homes is the responsibility of the health boards under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990 and Regulations made under this Act empower health boards to inspect private nursing homes. Having had inquiries made of the health boards-Eastern Regional Authority, I am satisfied that the nursing home regulations are being implemented properly.

A range of problems have been identified by the inspection teams which include: staffing levels and nursing policy issues; maintenance of accommodation standards; hygiene problems; lack of activities for residents; poor record keeping; insufficient or no active involvement from the local authority in fire safety; lack of equipment appropriate to clinical practice, for example, pressure mattresses; and discrepancies in the contracts of care.

In general, where problems occur, the inspection team will discuss their findings in detail with the nursing home owner-operators and this will generally ensure the matters raided will be addressed. However, reservations have been expressed that the powers of the nursing home inspection teams are limited under the legislation and this is one of the issues to be considered by the working group reviewing the nursing home subvention scheme.

There is one case pending before the courts and as the Deputy will be aware, I am not in a position to discuss the details of this case, as [438] doing so may prejudice the outcome of the case itself.