Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has expressed dismay at the horrific experience of nursing home residents who were isolated by system failures in their hour of need.
He has repeated Sinn Féin’s call for a full public inquiry.
Teachta Cullinane said he was shocked by the grim reality, but not surprised as families and social workers had been raising awareness of the situation of such residents since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“I am shocked by the grim reality which too many nursing home residents have had to face for the last few months.
“Unfortunately, I am not surprised as the families of residents, led by Care Champions and supported by social workers – particularly the Irish Association of Social Workers – had been raising these issues with politicians for months.
“The horrific experience of these residents and their families is a direct result of the Minister for Health’s failure to intervene in the sector.
“Guidance was issued to nursing homes but repeatedly ignored in many instances, with no enforcement or sanction.
“There have been many incidents in the recent past which should have spurred safeguarding legislation and enforcement, but the government have failed to act.
“Safeguarding legislation is needed immediately to put safeguarding on a statutory footing and empower safeguarding teams to investigate individual concerns and complaints.
“This must include a legal right of access and allow for unannounced inspections of premises.
“HIQA must also be empowered to issue improvement and compliance notices where nursing homes are failing to meet regulatory standards to allow a graduated enforcement approach.
“Regulations must also be updated in line with HIQA’s recommendations to provide for robust enforcement of best practice.
“Mandatory reporting of abuse and neglect, whether suspected or witnessed, must be introduced as must a legal right of entry for social workers to all nursing homes.
“Residents’ rights to family life must be respected and restored. Not a single nursing home should be denying visits of family to loved ones.
“These revelations and indisputable evidence of neglect, abuse, and unwillingness to safeguard the lives and rights of vulnerable adults must be followed up with a root and branch systemic review of the nursing home sector.
“A full public inquiry into the deaths of residents and the quality of care in nursing homes during the Covid-19 pandemic is warranted.
“This must hear from residents and their families, and the families of those who have lost loved ones in nursing homes, and it must examine the failures in the sector throughout the pandemic.”