HIQA warns of ‘inadequate’ safety measures at Merlin Park nursing home

An aerial view of Merlin Park Hospital

A public nursing home in the city has been criticised by a health watchdog for failing to take measures to prevent residents with dementia from going walkabout.

HIQA said Merlin Park Community Nursing Unit 5 and 6 had “inadequate” arrangements in place for identification, recording, investigation and learning from serious or adverse events involving residents.

The report of the January 24 inspection was published this week. It showed that since the last inspection, there were two notifications where residents with dementia had left the centre without the knowledge of staff.

HIQA inspectors deemed the nursing home’s response to these incidents, and the arrangements for keeping residents at risk safe, as “inadequate”.

“The providers response to these incidents was poor and did not ensure the safety of residents. A review by staff of one of the incidents identified an open window in the laundry or sluice as a possible means of exit.

“During the inspection inspectors found that an open window in the sluice room and the door to this room was ajar. The window in question had a defective catch and could not be secured. Though the fault had been recorded in the centre’s risk register and forwarded to the estates department for repair, no action had been taken to fix the window,” the HIQA report said.

When inspectors immediately brought this to the attention of the person in charge on the day of the inspection, the defective lock on the window was repaired. The person in charge also arranged to have a keypad lock fitted to the sluice door and the self-closing device adjusted.

Inspectors also found that, “there was also no evidence that any missing person drills were completed to ensure that the staff could respond promptly to locate a resident who left the centre unknown to staff.”

Overall the nursing home was compliant or substantially compliant with the guidelines. It promised to take action in two areas where there was ‘major’ noncompliance, including in preparation of care plans for residents. HIQA again criticised the suitability of the building.

It said that multi-occupancy rooms “do not meet the individual or collective needs of residents” and the en suite bathroom facilities “did not provide sufficient space to allow residents to shower with dignity and privacy”.

The HSE has said that a “new building has been approved and a design team appointed since the inspection.”