October 2020 – From a letter to The Sunday Independent
A chara – I wish to refer to Maeve Sheehan’s article in the Sunday Independent of the 27th September last entitled ‘Care Home Put Elderly to Bed at 5.00 pm’ on a fine summer’s afternoon. I experienced the same problem in the case of my late Mother, who was a resident in a private nursing home in Dublin. In order to avoid her being put to bed early after her supper at 6.30 pm, I would visit her at that time and stay, sometimes until 9.00 pm. She never liked going to bed early all her life. The residents were never given a choice to stay up unless they had a visitor.
In addition to visiting my mother on a daily basis, I have volunteered in nursing homes for over 40 years. From my own experience, I believe this practice to be quite commonplace in our nursing homes. Since the article appeared in your newspaper. I have heard from a number of other relatives who have similar stories to tell. This is done for the nursing home’s convenience. Typically, the day staff finish around 7.30 and they like to have the resident in bed for the night staff, who either don’t want to do it or don’t have time.
It is disappointing that ‘institutional’ practices such as this are still commonplace in our nursing homes in 2020. I have reason to believe that this practice is even more prevalent now, given visitor restrictions around Covid-19. In my mother’s case, I did complain to the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) but nothing was ever done about it. I now volunteer as part of a group of concerned citizens, campaigning for systemic change in the care and quality of life of older people in Ireland.
MARY ROSE GOUGH
Nursing Home Quality Initiative