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March 7, 2012

The Scandal of Ulster's Nursing Homes (Nth. IRELAND)

The scandal of Ulster’s nursing homes
5 March 2012

A REPORT released today has laid bare the failings of some nursing homes across Northern Ireland.
Elderly people are left to wait too long for toilet visits, some residents are being heavily sedated without being properly assessed for need, while others have complained about their privacy and personal care.
The alarming findings contained in the document from the NI Human Rights Commission also reveal that staff at some nursing homes do not have enough time to speak to the residents, while another resident reported a gap of more than 15 hours between meals, as well as 15 reports of residents taken to hospital for dehydration.
The Commission has also recommended that there is proper guidance on the use of restraints, after reports that tables were used to barricade residents.
The report – In Defence of Dignity – finds that “practices in nursing homes are failing to deliver many aspects of care in a human rights compliant way”.
Chief human rights commissioner Professor Michael O’Flaherty said they found many devoted staff, who were frustrated that they did not have the time to provide proper care and attention.
“The protection of human rights cannot be left to chance or the goodwill of an individual carer,” he said.
“The Commission now calls on the Northern Ireland Executive to implement its international human rights obligations.
“We have made a number of recommendations ... if they are implemented they will go a long way to safeguarding the dignity of our older people in nursing homes.”
The Commission also said the current regulations surrounding nursing homes fail to integrate human rights standards.
In conclusion, the report states: “The Commission is heartened by the fact that many of the staff interviewed displayed devotion to their work and a belief in the inherent dignity of those they cared for.
“It is now of paramount importance that government, the ultimate duty-bearer, ensures that the necessary structures and resources are in place to enable the staff to carry out their work in compliance with the international human rights standards.”
Anne O’Reilly, chief executive of the charity Age NI, said she was “shocked, but not surprised” by the findings.
The report, she said, “points to the lack of dignity, rights, security and choice at the heart of the health and social care system in Northern Ireland, particularly in nursing home care”.
“Age NI is appalled that the basic rights of some older people continue to be compromised in the 21st century,” she said.
Claire Keatinge, the commissioner for older people in Northern Ireland, said she was “committed to ensuring that the voices of our older people are heard”.
“So I very much welcome the focus that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has brought to the experience of older people living in nursing care,” she said.
She said those who live in nursing care “need to be better understood, their views and preferences respected, and their human rights upheld”.
A total of 25 residents from four homes were sampled from a variety of health trusts run by different organisations for the report.
A spokesman for the Independent Healthcare Providers group said it was dedicated to upholding the dignity and rights of residents in care homes and to ensuring the highest standards amongst members.
The group called for adequate funding.
“The Human Rights Commission’s investigation examined 188 complaints about care homes. Nine of these were deemed serious enough to refer on to the relevant statutory bodies for further consideration,” it said.
“We are unaware that any of these complaints refer to our members. There are 268 registered nursing homes, four of which were selected for this research.
“We note the high level of co-operation NIHRC received from the sector and the positive comments about the commitment and dedication of carers who look after our older people.
“We recognise that there are some unacceptable practices and behaviours highlighted in the report.
“Where these occur they should be corrected through better staff training, staffing levels and flexible application of procedures.
“Regrettably abuse of older people does occur and it can happen anywhere, including in their home.
“We support safeguarding measures to remove all abuse of older people.”
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was established in 1999 and is answerable to Westminster.
Their report into standards in nursing homes will be formally launched this morning in Belfast.
According to the Human Rights Commission, by 2047 there will be twice as many people aged 65 and over than there are today.
The investigation fieldwork was conducted through four case studies across Northern Ireland.
This included interviews with staff, residents, and family members or friends.
A close examination of the written policies and procedures of nursing homes and an analysis of a sample of home and GP records of residents were also completed.
In addition, the Commission invited members of the public to come forward with their experiences of nursing home care through a dedicated phone line or an online questionnaire.
As a result, the Commission recorded 163 calls for the investigation and 25 written submissions.

 SOURCE:     Newsletter.co.uk

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