With the vast majority of HSE public long stay nursing home units built prior to HIQA infrastructural standards, it will take a massive capital investment to ensure that all units are fully compliant with new regulations.
New standards for nursing homes are being brought in on July 1 this year and the HSE has acknowledged that it will be a major challenge to ensure that all units are compliant, especially for those housed in buildings which are over 100 years old.
In a statement issued to the Leitrim Observer this week, the HSE noted: “Over the last number of years the HSE’s capital investment programme has, within the available resources, brought a number of its public long stay units to full HIQA infrastructural standards and will continue to invest in long-stay units over the next number of years.”
In 2014 €36m was allocated in the Capital Plan for the continued upgrade of public residential facilities.
“As part of this process a comprehensive review of all public units was undertaken in 2012/2013 which is informing capital funding allocations to bring as many units as possible to full compliance,” noted the HSE.
“ This is an ongoing process and €122.34m in total is indented over the multi-annual period 2014 to 2018 for this purpose.”
It has been recognised that the majority of HSE public long stay units were built prior to HIQA Regulation in 2009 and as such there are a number of units that do not comply fully with infrastructure standards admitted the HSE.
“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.
“These units however, provide a significant number of long stay beds in areas of high demand and the HSE has been working closely with HIQA over the past number of months to meet the re-registration requirements of these units in 2015 to facilitate the continued delivery of these services.”
Local politicians have stressed that there is a real need for the HSE to tackle the problem of compliance with nursing home facilities, especially in relation to Mohill’s Aras Carolan, which was identified this week as being one of 21 nursing homes at risk of closure once new standards are brought into place in July.
“Aras Carolan has excellent staff and has had substantial investment over the past few years, it would be ridiculous to see such a facility under threat,” Sinn Féin councillor, Martin Kenny told the Leitrim Observer this week.
“This is a much valued part of our local community and major investment must be secured to ensure that it meets all standards going forward,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor, Sean McGowan, acknowledged the vital role played by units such as Aras Carolan and also St Patrick’s Hospital in Carrick-on-Shannon.
He stressed that it was vital that the HSE sort all outstanding issues by July 1.
“Tremendous work has been done over the past decade on Aras Carolan but I do recognise that some areas of the unit need to be modified. I just hope that HIQA give the HSE the space and time to carry out the modifications as Aras Carolan provide an excellent and vital service to many, many families in this locality,” he said.
“We want this to continue.”