THE Muiriosa Foundation has responded to a HIQA report following an inspection of one of their premises in Offaly.
A short notice inspection at the facility found poor hygiene standards, fire hazards and said there was a danger of rodent infestation.
The building, which is described as being located outside a large Offaly town, is registered as an isolation hub during the Covid-19 pandemic and is a one single storey bungalow. When not being used as an isolation hub a day service operates at the centre.
Known as Community Living Area A3, there were no residents present on the day of the inspection, however, documentation pertaining to people's stay in the centre was viewed by the inspector and this indicated that the residents had been contented during their stay and their support needs were well catered for during that time.
The report stated that, ''important resources such as an appropriate fire safety system and wheelchair accessible bathroom facilities were not present in the centre to ensure the effective delivery of care and support in accordance with the statement of purpose."
Inspectors said that there were numerous issues identified, for example battery operated smoke detectors were installed but there was not an appropriate fire alarm system in place at the time of this inspection. Fire-fighting equipment such as extinguishers were present, but there were no containment measures such as fire doors, and there was no emergency lighting in the centre.
In response the Muiriosa Foundation said: ''We recognise that there was a failure to meet all of the HIQA requirements, e.g fire management systems, and typically this is a standard practice within all of our designated centres. Whilst all of these systems were not installed in this emergency facility, smoke alarm systems, and fire fighting equipment were installed and a staff member was on duty in the facility at all times."
In addition the inspectors observed that while there were overhead hoists located in one bedroom, the adjoining ensuite was not wheelchair accessible and there were no showering or bathing facilities suitable for a wheelchair user.
There was a large backyard and garden area to the rear of the premises. The inspectors found this area was poorly maintained and overgrown. A boundary structure that separated this premises from a neighbouring property had fallen down and there was free access to the neighbouring property through this gap.
Records viewed in the centre showed that a pest-control company had been contracted due to rodents sighted in the garden by staff in the previous week.
On the day of the inspection, the inspector noted that there was a large quantity of decomposing apples present on the ground in the garden, and there were also overgrown and poorly maintained areas to the side and rear of the premises.
A shed was located on the premises that contained a stock of (PPE) held by the provider. The inspector viewed the interior of this shed and did not note any presence of rodents at that time. However, the report commented that there was no evidence that the risks associated with rodent activity near this storage facility had been appropriately risk assessed and there had been no efforts to maintain a significantly overgrown area at the rear of the shed that could harbour rodents.
Responding, the Muiriosa Foundation stated: ''With regard to the rodent matter, one of our staff believed they may have gotten sight of a rodent in the garden, and to manage this, we employed a pest control company to assess if there were rodents present. No evidence of rodent activity was established.''
Inspectors reported that an emergency plan in the centre outlined that in the event of an emergency evacuation residents could be transferred to local hotels. This did not take into account the suitability of this option for residents who potentially were infected with the COVID-19 virus, and also had not been updated to reflect the closure of some of these establishments during Level Five government restrictions that were in place at the time of this inspection.
The inspector saw that the kitchen presses were ''visibly soiled and greasy'' and did not appear to have been cleaned in some time.
In its statement the Muiriosa Foundation said:
''The Muiríosa Foundation has a proud history of providing high quality residential care and support to individuals as attested in our monitoring and inspection process through the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) since November 2013 within the Offaly region.
"This designated centre was established as an emergency response to the Covid pandemic as an additional support to ensure our residents had an opportunity to restrict their movements should the need arise in accordance with Covid guidelines without impacting on their peers.
"Whilst we recognise that we had to address and remedy the deficiencies which were exposed, it is not accurate, fair, or proportionate, to view the running of our designated centres solely or primarily with reference to this particular report on an emergency service which was established in response to a global pandemic.
"All outstanding issues in relation to this inspection have been addressed and accepted by HIQA, the regulatory body of residential and residential respite services for children and adults with disabilities provided by voluntary organisations.
"We are grateful to our committed and hardworking staff teams who have worked so diligently over the last 14 months to mitigate against the transmission of Covid-19 within our services to a very high level of success.''
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