HSE nursing home criticised again over standards

Merlin Park Hospital

A nursing home run by the Health Service Executive (HSE) has once again failed to comply with regulations that ensure premises are safe and suitable.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has highlighted problems at Merlin Park Community Nursing Unit following an inspection of the facility.

“The current design and layout is institutional and impacts negatively on the residents’ privacy and dignity,” the latest HIQA report states.

Despite repeatedly highlighting this issue, the HSE’s timeframe to address the concerns is set out as December 2020, and “plans to provide a new centre were not available” to HIQA.

The inspection found that the building was non-compliant with regulatory requirements due to the configuration of bedrooms in multi-occupancy rooms. The toilet facilities also compromised the privacy of residents. This was similar to previous inspections.

The inspection took place in April and the report has just been released. The centre is registered to accommodate 52 residents and there were 45 on the day of inspection.

The majority of residents in the centre were assessed as having either maximum or high dependency needs.

“On the previous inspection the premises was found to resemble a clinical/hospital setting rather than that of a long term residential centre. A total of 10 bedrooms were multi-occupancy rooms accommodating four residents which impacted on the residents’ privacy and affected the time they got to sleep and were awoken at as any noise from other residents affected all residents in the multi-occupancy rooms.

“Residents had privacy screens around their beds during person care but the inspector observed that residents resting in their beds could be viewed from the hallway by other residents or visitors to the centre. Separate bathroom facilities were provided on each unit. Some toilet facilities provided were in shared cubicles which were partitioned by a light wooden structure which did not afford privacy. The inspector was informed that these were for use by visitors however this was not clearly indicated on the signage,” the report said.

The HSE said efforts had been made to make the units homelier for residents – bedrooms had been repainted and new curtains provided between beds since the last inspection.

Two bedrooms which were not open at the time of the last inspection due to a water leak had been brought back into service.

The report added: “The walls and skirting board on the corridors in both units were however still chipped and damaged and required repainting. The inspector found that other than painting a hall table at the entrance to unit five, there was little evidence of any work to make the reception area more homely.”

At the previous inspection the HSE said the centre was to be allocated a new building. During the latest inspection, the inspector was told the design brief was being worked on by the HSE estates department, “but no plans were available at the time of this inspection”.

During the last inspection, it was identified that there was no mechanically operated extract ventilation to remove smoke from the room designated for smoking. This action was not addressed, either, although the HSE was still within the agreed time frame to rectify this.

Apart from not meeting compliance on regulations, the unit was mostly compliant.

In total, eleven of the actions from the last inspection were addressed. A further three were partially addressed. It was not possible to review two actions as documentation was not available and three actions were not addressed, the report added.