A large number of elderly residents of a HSE-run community hospital in Co Limerick were spending the whole day in or beside their beds during a recent Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) inspection.

The report also criticises St Ita's Community Hospital in Co Limerick for failing to provide adequate privacy to dying residents in multi-occupancy bedrooms or to the residents who were sharing rooms with them.

The hospital is largely located in the old workhouse building in Newcastle West.

During HIQA's unannounced inspection last July, it was home to 69 older people.

Eight regulatory standards were reviewed and the facility was found to be compliant with two and seriously non-compliant under three: health and social care needs, residents' rights, dignity and how they were consulted, and the safety and suitability of premises.

Inspectors describe the centre as being in a poor state of repair with damaged and chipped paintwork and evidence of stains on walls caused by dampness from long-term leaks.

The report recalls that almost four years ago, the Health Service Executive had promised HIQA it would reconfigure the hospital by last December, but the HSE had put back the deadline by three years.

It notes that it was not possible to provide adequate privacy to residents as they approached the end of their lives in multi-occupancy bedrooms and this also compromised the privacy of other residents in the rooms concerned.

No daily meaningful activities

The report says the absence of the activities co-ordinator – on leave at the time of the inspection - was not covered.

Residents lacked daily meaningful activities with a large number of them spending long periods of time either in bed or in a chair at their bedside.

The report adds that residents in sitting rooms were provided with little stimulation, other than the television in which they had little interest.

It says most activities that did take place during the inspection, such as music and art therapy, were facilitated by external providers and funding for some of these activities was reported to have been provided by a local volunteer group and not by the HSE.

The report also describes the variable accommodation in St Ita's three units.

In Orchid Unit, residents were predominantly accommodated in single bedrooms, had adequate communal and dining space and had good access to outdoor space.

Camellia Unit comprised mostly five-bedded rooms with limited personal space, limited accessible communal and dining space, and no readily accessible outdoor space.

In Bluebell Unit, residents were accommodated in a mix of single, twin, triple and four-bedded rooms, had better access to communal and dining space than Camellia, but outdoor space was not readily accessible.

While inspectors observed predominantly person-centred, therapeutic, respectful interactions, staff were seen to enter a room and carry out a task without interacting with its residents or only interacting with the resident to whom care was being provided.