Another Health Service Executive-run nursing home has been strongly criticised by the Health Information and Quality Authority for lacking adequate sanitary facilities and for staff shortages especially in the evenings and at night.

The statutory watchdog's inspection also found that the Co Cork facility failed in its duty to notify it of the unexpected death of a resident.

Today's report is HIQA's ninth in five years on St Joseph's Community Hospital, in Millstreet, Co Cork.

At the time of the pre-announced inspection in March, it accommodated 22 older residents mostly in two 11-bed dormitories.

All its 26 beds are on the ground floor of the two-storey building, which dates from 1932 and which HIQA says is in a poor state of repair.

The report says that overall, residents received a good standard of care which was complimented by residents and their relatives.

But the unexpected death of a resident, along with some other matters, had not been notified to HIQA as required.

A resident who was dying was in an 11-bed ward and overall bedroom accommodation was inadequate.

Other deficits in the premises included inadequate sanitary and sluicing facilities and inadequate communal space and storage space for residents' belongings.

Their clothes regularly went missing on return from the laundry.

HIQA says an action plan submitted to it by the HSE on premises' issues did not fully satisfactorily address these failings and the watchdog is considering further regulatory action. 

Improvements were also required in relation to the use of restraint on residents and the storage and disposal of medications were unsafe.

HIQA adds that the hospital did not ensure that at all times there were adequate numbers and skill-mix of staff to meet residents' needs, especially in the evening and at night.

The HSE has said it is engaging a design team to start preparing plans next October for the redevelopment of the hospital.

In a statement welcoming HIQA's report on the facility, the HSE says the plans will address all the accommodation issues raised by the watchdog.

In the meantime, some damaged wall and tile surfaces are undergoing minor refurbishment.

In addition, a quality improvement plan has been submitted to HIQA outlining how the HSE is addressing all of the issues raised in the report.

The statement underlines the HIQA finding that residents were receiving a good standard of care at the time of last March's inspection.

It says that, nationally, the HSE has already brought a number of its public long-stay units to full HIQA infrastructural standards within the capital resources available to it and it commits to continuing with its investment programme.

It says that in 2012/2013, it undertook a comprehensive review of all public units which is informing these allocations in order "to bring as many units as possible to full compliance". 

Last year the HSE allocated €36m for the continued upgrade of public residential facilities and at total of €122.34m is earmarked for this purpose over the period 2014 to 2018.

It says a major capital investment would be required to bring all these units to full infrastructural compliance particularly those that are in excess of 100 years old.

Yesterday, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the price-tag would be between €400m and €500m and urged the adoption of a medium-term investment plan. The HSE said this would be in addition to the money already earmarked.

The executive added that it has been recognised that the majority of HSE public long-stay units were built prior to HIQA regulation in 2009, leaving a number of them not fully compliant with infrastructure standards.

The HSE statement concludes by underlining that the units provide a significant number of long-stay beds in areas of high demand and that the executive is continuing to work closely with HIQA to agree plans for infrastructural improvement which allow the units to meet the re-registration requirements to facilitate the continued delivery of these services.