Rostrevor House owners lodge appeal

Wednesday 08 June 2011 23.26
Rostrevor Nursing Home - No-one in charge during HIQA inspections
Rostrevor Nursing Home - No-one in charge during HIQA inspections

The owners of the Rostrevor House Nursing Home in Dublin have lodged an appeal against the cancellation of the home's registration.

The case is due for mention in the Circuit Court tomorrow.

The appeal comes after the Health Information and Quality Authority secured a District Court order last Friday, effectively closing the home and transferring its management to the Health Service Executive.

Inspectors from HIQA said they had uncovered serious allegations of physical and verbal abuse, which have been reported to the gardaí.

Earlier, Minister of State with responsibility for Older People Kathleen Lynch described the allegations of abuse as 'horrifying'.

An affidavit forwarded to the gardaí lists claims of an alarmingly high number of falls and other injuries and of a lack of clinical governance.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, Minister Lynch said the report highlighted the need to widen the powers of HIQA to other community services.

HIQA said all 23 residents were vulnerable, elderly people and were entirely reliant on their carers to protect them from abuse.

In its affidavit, the agency says that incidents of alleged abuse had gone largely unreported and in effect were 'covered up by the alleged abuser' and that many of the residents were unable to articulate or verbalise any concern or fears.

Five key allegations

It revealed five key allegations of abuse among five residents.

In one case in late 2010, a male care assistant - described as Care Assistant 'P' in the affidavit - was reported to have banged a resident's head against a door jam.

The care assistant called staff members together and instructed them to say that the resident had fallen and hit his head.

The case was reported to the owner of the home but no action appears to have been taken. It was also alleged that the same care assistant kicked a resident a number of times on the floor.

In another case, the same care assistant routinely took a female resident to the bathroom on his own.

According to the affidavit, when he did so, staff members said that they could hear the resident screaming in the toilet and that this was a regular occurrence.

In another case, Care Assistant 'P' slapped a resident in the face while putting him to bed.

Staff frightened when giving evidence

According to HIQA, staff members who provided information to its inspectors were clearly frightened and concerned that mentioning the incidents could lead them to lose their job.

A number of staff members were dependant on the home for their livelihoods and their working visas - entitling them to remain in Ireland - were tied to the nursing home.

Three staff members insisted on being interviewed by inspectors away from the nursing home.

According to HIQA, it provided a summary of alleged abuses to the gardaí on 27 May.

During inspections carried out on 25 and 26 May, HIQA inspectors discovered an alarming history of falls, injuries and other incidents in a sample of eight residents.

It found 24 recorded incidents of falls in seven of the eight residents, which occurred last year and this year.

At the time of its inspection, HIQA found that no-one was in charge of the home as required by regulations.

The agency said there were widely publicised allegations of abuse in the past, which led to the alleged perpetrator, a male nurse, being struck off the register by An Bord Altranais in December 2010.

Two other nurses were also struck off for professional misconduct and for failing to take appropriate action.

One of these nurses was the proprietor of the home, Therese Lipsett, who was struck off for failing to manage the issue.

HIQA says that despite a request by it that Mrs Lipsett exclude herself from involvement in the home, she was still involved up to 22 March 2011.

HIQA says that Mrs Lipsett is still the registered owner of the home, which is operated by a company, Kitelm Limited.

The agency says it uncovered the incidents after ten days of inspections by seven inspectors, since April 2010.

HIQA also found that the clinical records were generally poor and inadequate.

Age Action expresses shock

Age Action has said it is absolutely shocked at the allegations concerning the home.

Spokesman Eamon Timmins said that it emphasised the need for long-promised whistlebower legislation.

Meanwhile, Nursing Homes Ireland has declined to comment on the Rostrevor Nursing Home.

In a statement, the group said it was inappropriate to comment on the inspection reports of any individual nursing home.