You are here

Age Action concerned HIQA warnings about inadequate staffing levels at community hospital were not addressed

Published 25/04/2014


Age Action has expressed concern at the serious understaffing at a Sligo community hospital, cited in court as a contributory factor in the assault in which a nurse taped the mouth of a resident.

A judge was told this week that the nurse at St John’s Community Hospital in Sligo had a “dangerous workload” at the time he had taped the mouth of a resident, who he said was shouting. The HSE, which runs the hospital, acknowledged that there was a staff shortage on the day in question last June, but noted that staff ratios had since been reviewed on the ward where the assault took place and recommended ratios were now in place.

However, Age Action is concerned that concerns about staffing levels at the hospital had been highlighted in  a series of HIQA inspection reports about  the facility, dating back to April 2011 – more than two years before the assault occurred.

Following an inspection of the facility on April 5, 6 and 7, 2011, it warned that there were insufficient staff levels to meet the needs of residents.  It called for an “immediate review” of staffing levels and the roles of care staff, in line with the dependency needs of residents to ensure appropriate levels of supervision and care for residents.

In another inspection report in October, 2012, HIQA stated that the “provider acknowledged that the staffing levels were below what was deemed good practice, but he was working to get staffing levels increased.” Concerns about inadequate staffing levels were also highlighted in HIQA inspection reports published last July and October.

“Nothing can excuse the nurse’s action in taping the mouth of a vulnerable, helpless resident, and we praise the actions of the colleague who raised the alarm, and the HSE’s response in alerting the Gardai and HIQA,” Age Action spokesman Eamon Timmins said. “However, the systemic failings cited as contributing to the nurse’s actions, were known about for at least two years beforehand.”

The older people’s charity is calling for HIQA and all nursing home owners to work to provide clarity around the HIQA standard relating to staffing levels.  Resources must then be provided to ensure this standard is met, and that staff are adequately supported.

“With entry age of people going into residential care rising, and increasing numbers of residents with dementia expected in the coming years, the provision of quality nursing home care is going to become more and more demanding,” Mr Timmins said. “Staffing levels and staffing support has to be properly funded so that nursing home residents are protected and can receive high quality care.”



Age Action Ireland to benefit from Gas Networks Ireland Survey

Gas Networks Ireland is raising money for Age Action. If you've recently called their contact centre or had work done by them, you might receive a text from Gas Networks asking for your feedback. For every response received, they'll donate €2 to Age Action. There is no obligation to participate.

How It Works - If you've had contact with Gas Networks Ireland service centre or had work carried out by them, you may receive a message from Marie Lyster, their Customer Experience Manager. This message is an invitation to share your feedback. 

By providing feedback – only if you choose to – you'll be supporting Age Action Ireland. For every piece of feedback received, Gas Networks Ireland will donate €2 to our organisation. This contribution can support our efforts to improve the lives of older people in Ireland.You won't be asked for any bank details or money. Gas Networks Ireland is handling all the donations.

If you would rather not get these texts, just let them know and you won’t be included.  If you are over 65yrs old, you can contact them directly on their Age-Friendly service.  See their contact details here.

For Corporate Clients- Please note that Gas Networks donate €50 for each qualitative interview their commercial customers take part in.

Details on Gas networks customer surveys is available here.

For more information about our work and other ways to get involved with Age Action, please click here.