Ministers for Health have welcomed changes to regulations to strengthen access to advocacy services and to standardise complaints processes in private nursing homes.
The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD, have welcomed the publication of updated regulations to support the rollout of the Patient Advocacy Service to private nursing homes and to support best practice and standardise complaints processes.
Minister Donnelly last week signed regulations to amend the Care and Welfare regulations for long-term residential care facilities for older people.
The regulations have been amended in response to recommendations from the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel Report and a Programme for Government commitment to examine extending the remit of the Patient Advocacy Service (PAS) to residents of long-term residential care facilities.
The amendments, which will come into effect on 1 March 2023, will clarify and enhance existing provisions and facilitate the phased rollout of PAS to private nursing homes from November 2022.
PAS aims to provide independent, professional support to nursing home residents and their families to make a formal complaint regarding the care they have received.
In addition, requirements in relation to complaints processes have been amended to provide for greater specification to enable improved standardisation and timely responses.
The amendments will:
- Increase residents’ access to independent advocacy services by way of presentations / in-person awareness campaigns and through meetings and support;
- Ensure that key personnel are suitably trained to deal with complaints and reviews and that all personnel have an awareness of the complaint procedure;
- Specify that complaints / review officers should be nominated to deal with complaints and reviews;
- Encourage registered providers to offer practical assistance to residents in making complaints; and
- Provide timeframes for complaint and review procedures.
Welcoming the amendments and the publication of the Crowe Review of Nursing Homes Complaints Policies, Minister Butler said: “It is really important for residents and their families to have access to advocacy services and a robust complaints process across all long-term residential care facilities for older people. It is important to remember that long-term residential care facilities for older people are residents’ homes.
“The voice and choice of older people should be heard and respected, and these new amendments will further support this. I would like to thank all long-term residential care facilities for older people for their cooperation in this regard.”
Minister Butler continued: “As emphasised in the Crowe review, it is critical that we further build on good practice across the sector, to embed a positive complaints culture that enables issues to be responded to quickly and, more broadly, can be a driver for quality improvement.”