Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 10 September 2020
Special Committee on Covid-19 Response
Examination of HIQA Report on the Impact of Covid-19 on Nursing Homes in Ireland
Ms Mary Dunnion:
The Deputy is correct that a number of nursing home premises are not compliant with the regulations. A statutory instrument, however, has given statutory and private providers a period to allow them to become compliant with the regulations. It would be illegal, therefore, for us to take any regulatory action in that context because they have been given, through a statutory instrument of the Government, time to get their premises in order. Having said that, we have utilised the regulations for personal care and the rights of individuals, and we have taken action and regulatory enforcement in this regard because the premises are a contributor to this. On the occasions when we have done that, we have been taken to court in the context of a challenge to our regulatory enforcement decision.
Covid-19 has put a strong focus on the immediate priority that is required to create a provision for residents in the context of safe spaces, social distancing, isolation and, as they are known, cohorting facilities. Many providers that have challenges with their premises are now reducing the numbers of residents living in the nursing homes in order that they can make an accommodation for the public health emergency. We are very aware of that and feel very strongly about it because we put a great emphasis on the fact that a nursing home is where somebody lives, and he or she is entitled to confidentiality, personal space and everything else that every citizen is entitled to. As a consequence, it is a constant source of engagement and enforcement for us.