Concern over nursing home rights

Published Monday, 05 March 2012
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Some older people in nursing homes in Northern Ireland are waiting 17 hours between dinner and breakfast, according to a new report by the Human Rights Commission.

Concern over nursing home rights
The number of elderly people in nursing homes in NI is increasing. (© Getty)

The commission's investigative report into the rights of the elderly has found that many homes are not complying with human rights.

NIHRC Chief Commissioner, Professor Michael O'Flaherty, said: "We identify many practices that raise human rights concerns such as toileting regimes that are built around institutional convenience rather than the needs of residents and that oblige people to use incontinence pads.

"We raise concerns about lack of adequate access to liquids and of 17-hour gaps between the serving of dinner and breakfast."

The report also raises concern around the use of restraint and notes a "worryingly inconsistent" practice used by GPs to review residents' medication regimes.

Nursing homes provide 24-hour nursing care and it is thought the rise in available nursing packages is indicative of the growing health needs of older people receiving long-term care.

An increasing number of elderly people in Northern Ireland are cared for in nursing homes, and it is predicted that by 2047 the number of people aged 65 and over in homes will have doubled.

Prof O'Flaherty added that staff who "do a first rate job" become frustrated that they do not have enough time to spend with residents to give them further care and attention.

The commission is calling for Executive implement the human rights recommendations made in the In Defence of Dignity report.

It states that current nursing home regulations should be amended to protect residents' human rights and the homes should be provided with guidance on how to apply human rights standards to everyday care.

"If they are implemented they will go a long way to safeguarding the dignity of our older people in nursing homes," added Prof O'Flaherty.

Claire Keatinge, the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, said it is vital to safeguard the needs of the elderly.

"Older People in nursing care are among the most vulnerable in our society; many nursing home residents live with dementia and have other high support needs.

"For older people, with or without the support of a family, their feelings of isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming. High-quality nursing care must ensure residents feel understood, cared for, and able to contribute as fully as they are able.

"The real lives of older people who live in nursing care needs to be better understood, their views and preferences respected, and their human rights upheld," she added.

Independent Health Care Providers, the body which represents providers, said it condemns poor practice but that building standards costs money.

A statement read: "We unreservedly condemn poor practice and have a strong Code of Conduct which we expect all members to comply with.

"The care of an increasingly ageing population is one of the biggest challenges that society faces. It is imperative that older people are treated with dignity, love and respect and that their rights are upheld at all times.

"Fundamental to the debate is that in order to further build resources and standards in care homes it will be necessary to have adequate funding."

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Lisa F in Belfast wrote (960 days ago):
The lack of dignity and respect in care homes are rediculous in this day and age. Bringing residents to the toilet and leaving the door open for ones to see in when passing. In a dementia unit leaving jugs of juice out and the residents not being able to pour the juice out. Care workers being told that residents need to use the toilet, but let them sit without taking them. We hear about the so called inspections being carried out but the short of it all is the home knows that they are coming and therefore the home manager will have everything in order for the inspection and also 9 out 10 times the manager will know the inspector.
heather in newtownabbey wrote (961 days ago):
i have had first hand experience in this department ,, my mother who had alziemers was in a nursing home ,, when she went into this home she was walking albeit with the aid of a rolator ,, within a few weeks she was bedridden with a pad on and never walked again ,, she was admitted twice to the hospital with dehydration and bed sores ,, we questioned the home about this and where told it was all part of her condition ,, when she started to shout at them we were advised to seek another home for her ,, we eventually got her a place in the most beautiful home( part of a chain ) where she spent her last days so so happy with the most dedicated people .. i do think these homes need to be more monitored and maybe the relatives included in any research and maybe the few bad apples that are just in it for the money could be wormed out and closed down for the sake of our elderly ,,,
gerry in belfast wrote (962 days ago):
my brother was in a residential home for three years and during that time he had his money stolen and his cigarettes, and was also assaulted by the staff working there, i complained to the authorites but it fell on deaf ears because no one cares?
Pol in Belfast wrote (962 days ago):
Absolutely correct Claire Keating the nursing care is abysmal. However one positive seems to be that residents who pay upwards of £500 per week are treated as badly as those who do not pay. Its a disgrace that our eldery and infirm can be treated in this manner. Its time people care took precedence over profit.....
norman.d in bangor wrote (962 days ago):
people in our prisons are better treated than the elderly in our care homes would prisioners wait for their food no way there would be a outcry from the human rights brigade so why are they letting this happen to our elderly
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