NUMEROUS complaints were made by staff in relation to bullying and patient care at the Avondale Nursing Home.
Evidence given at an employment appeals tribunal last month heard of constant bullying and harassment of staff. In that case Mary and Erica Dunne won their case and it was found that they were constructively dismissed from their employment. Compensation awards are due to be awarded to both parties over the coming weeks but it is unclear if they will be paid as Ms Holmes whereabouts are not known.
It has now emerged that staff also reported concerns relating to patient care to the State’s health standards watchdog, HIQA. The tip offs from staff resulted in a number of inspections at the home in recent months.
On Thursday HIQA secured an interim court order to close a nursing home over fears the lives of its 12 residents were at risk. The authority sought the order after the “sudden, unagreed and unplanned” discharge and transfer of several residents at the nursing home. They also raised concerns about fire safety, care practices, governance and a “persistent failure to co-operate” with inspectors.
Documents filed with Carlow District Court show one vulnerable resident with an acquired brain injury was brought to his family’s home with four suitcases of belongings by nursing home owner Miriam Holmes on July 10. His family were told without any prior warning that he was being discharged.
Another vulnerable resident was told on July 20 he was being transferred to another nursing home in Clonmel on July 22 because of building works at the home. The resident’s family were later told his transfer would take place a day earlier, on July 21. Chief inspector of the authority Tracey Cooper told the court she had been “alarmed” by the “sudden and unplanned discharge” of vulnerable residents. She said they were “totally unjustified and unnecessary” and created “a risk to the life or serious risk to the health” of residents and reflected the “poor judgment” of the home owner.
In March inspectors criticised a practice at the home of waking up residents as early as 5am for showers and to dress pressure wounds. On at least one occasion an inspector discovered a fully clothed resident sleeping in bed, and noted there was “no adequate rationale” for this routine. This practice was stopped following the inspection.
Inspectors also criticised the practice of making some residents sleep in all-in-one sleeping suits, which zipped up from the back to restrict their movement. The home said the suits were required to keep incontinence pads in place. But inspectors said the home had given no consideration to other treatments. A 20-point action plan drawn up by the authority, which outlined changes required of the home, was never implemented, according to court documents.
Nursing home owner Ms Holmes was invited to attend a meeting at the authority on June 17. A letter from the home to the authority said Ms Holmes was on annual leave of not more than 28 days, and an acting person in charge was in place.
After tip-offs about the unplanned discharge of patients, the authority wrote to the nursing home this week to express its concerns about residents’ safety.
“You appear to be undertaking some form of closure and transfer of residents, which appears to be taking place in an unplanned, unco-ordinated and in our view very unsafe manner,” wrote Tony Christie, regional operations manager at the authority.