Closure Fear For Nursing Home In Enniscrone

The proprietors of the Enniscrone private nursing home – issued with a damning report by the HSE after an unannounced inspection – claim they face closure if forced to implement major changes ordered within the required time-frame.

Owners of Sancta Maria Nursing Home, Terry and Mary Cawley, have been given a maximum of three months to rectify such breaches of regulations as wheelchair accessible corridors and the provision of lifts to the former hotel building; a time-frame deemed “impossible” by Mr Cawley. Speaking to the Western People yesterday (Monday), Terry Cawley said he disagreed with most of the 32 alleged breaches of HSE regulations filed in the report.

“There could be no fewer than seven breaches. I am not saying I am perfect, but I cannot make all these changes in three months,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned we were working within the regulations but to install a lift in three months or widen corridors is just not possible.”

The Sligo nursing home hit the headlines on Friday last when a report of an unannounced HSE inspection on October 4th, 2006, detailed that four residents were physically restrained in their chairs. One of the four residents had a cloth restraint around her abdomen and chest, which was tied behind a chair.

Referring to the restraints, Mr Cawley said that a nurse or relative in each case signed the consent form. “If you do not restrain someone in a car you will get four penalty points. If you are not restrained in a plane it simply won’t take off. These four people were not tied down, they were wearing a special waistcoat put on to enable them to move but restrain them from standing up.”

The report states that although a signed agreement with relatives/nurses had existed, no protocol was in place and there was no indication that any medical assessment had taken place. In response Terry Cawley said he was not furnished with any new protocol on the matter and believed he was working within the HSE regulations at the time.

“The HSE did not send us any new protocol in writing. The restraint is not a breach of regulations. Since the HSE report, a lady who was left unrestrained has gotten up and fallen, fracturing her hip as a result. I am willing to work together on this with the HSE but let’s not be frivolous,” he said.

He also took issue with the case of a female patient who was restrained in a chair in her upstairs bedroom without access to a call bell. He said that the patient in question was terminally ill and, in any case, not physically able to ring a bell.

“The residents that are here are older and more dependent and I acknowledge that. We need an overall plan for the building and need time to do that. When I suggested that to the HSE representative she said it was simply not an option. Now I don’t know if that means we will have to close or not.”

Mr Cawley also took aim at the report’s reference to prescriptions being taken over the phone by nurses, as “not good practice”.

He argued that in many cases where a patient is ill at night-time, there is no other option but to prescribe medication over the phone. “Is the nurse supposed to just stand around and wait? There is nothing illegal being done here,” he insisted.

Mr Cawley denied that he has any issue with unannounced inspections. “I have no problem with inspections and regulations but I think we should work alongside each other. I am calling on an independent body to investigate and carry out inspections.

“We are working for 17 years here providing care for the elderly without a single complaint. This was a fun place to work and live and now that has been replaced by fear. The staff are devastated by this and worried about the future. The residents are fearful and they too want to be heard.”