“HIQA will never find anything right or they will be out of a job,” was the stinging criticism of the Health Information and Quality Authority at the recent meeting of the Dublin Mid Leinster Health Forum.
Tullamore Fine Gael Cllr Tommy McKeigue was one of a number of people who questioned the authority’s basis for aiming to keep residents of nursing homes in one or two bed rooms.
“There is no demand for two bed rooms,” the councillor said, adding that residents have company in four bed wards and that they have no voice.
“Where will the money come from to meet the standards?” he asked, saying people who built purpose-built nursing homes did so to the standards in place at the time.
Many have a lot of borrowings of “a serious nature” he said, and many not be able to get more money.
In the end, it’s the old people who pay, he said, adding his voice to those of a number of councillors who questioned the fate of nursing homes and the legitimacy of HIQA standards.
Laois councillor Willie Aird said a large number of people in nursing homes can make up their own minds and don’t want to be in isolation.
He said that if you visit one person in a nursing home, there are three or four other people in the room who are glad to see a visitor.
“You’ll take all this away,” he told HSE representatives at the top table.
“I would like to know who has asked for this – I think the whole thing is absolutely crazy.”
He regretted that his party colleague and health minister has not done more since he came into office.
He supported Cllr McKeigue’s proposal that HIQA be invited to speak to the forum.
On the subject of the two-bed policy, in his formal motion, Cllr McKeigue had asked the Minister and the HSE to “work together with all stakeholders to find a more effective solution to what is going to be a major problem into the future.”
In a written reply, David Walsh, area manager for the HSE in the region, accepted that the implementation of these standards “has posed many challenges for the HSE given the current infrastructural deficits and staffing moratorium.”
Implementing the full standards by 2015 will pose additional problems, Mr Walsh’s statement continued, but he said the HSE and Department of Health remain committed to the provision of long stay care.