Councillor broke down in tears over impact of nursing home closure

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council has urged the Government to investigate the practice of stopping the admission of new patients to nursing homes if they are unable to implement some required improvements in light of the recent closure of a local nursing home with the loss of 40 jobs.

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council has urged the Government to investigate the practice of stopping the admission of new patients to nursing homes if they are unable to implement some required improvements in light of the recent closure of a local nursing home with the loss of 40 jobs.

The Council has called for the investigation into the Health Information and Quality Assurance Board’s practice of stopping admissions where a nursing home is unable to fully comply with its requirements.

The Council has sent letters to Health Minister Dr James Reilly, Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Taoiseach Enda Kenny requesting that they investigate this issue in view of the circumstances that led to the closure of the 30-bed Suirmount Nursing Home in Carrickbeg in Carrick-on-Suir earlier this month.

Ann Marie Panton, the owner of Suirmount Nursing Home in Carrickbeg, told The Nationalist before the closure that she could not complete improvements demanded by HIQA because she required bank financial support to do so but it was not forthcoming without the nursing home’s registration being renewed. However, HIQA wouldn’t renew the registration until the improvement works were carried out.

Fine Gael Cllr Margaret Croke, who was a patient advocate at Suirmount Nursing Home, tabled the motion at the Council meeting requesting it contact the Health and Justice Minisiters and Taoiseach to seek an investigation into HIQA’s practice.

She told the meeting that in her estimation Suirmount was a very good care facility and she knew plenty of people, who would back her up on this.

This nursing home had been stopped from taking in new residents since last summer. While HIQA did not close the nursing home, it did so effectively by stealth because the home was deprived of funds.

She pointed out that the residents of Suirmount had regarded it as their home and having to move elsewhere was devastating for them. She broke down in tears on visiting Suirmount and meeting the residents as their advocate before the closure.

Cllr Croke complained that the nursing home had no place to go to disagree and appeal HIQA’s findings, apart from taking the body to court.

She claimed that some of the findings of the HIQA report into the nursing home were “lies” and she was horrified for its patients and patients in other nursing homes in the country if the same thing happened.

Fianna Fail Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan agreed with Cllr Croke’s point about the nursing home not having any recourse to contradict or question HIQA’s findings. She called for an appeal process to be made available to nursing home owners and that this be investigated. In the case of planning decisions, you could at least go to An Bord Pleanala to appeal but nursing homes only option was to hire a barrister and take your case to court.

It was really a kind of dictatorship with the nursing homes having to accept what HIQA said, she added.