Press Release

Better Oversight Needed In Homes For Older People

Session: 2011/2012

Date: Thursday, 24 February 2011

Reference: PAC 07/10/11

Ensuring that residential care and nursing home provision for older people provides the best quality of care and value for money must be at the heart of all monitoring arrangements. That message comes as the Northern Ireland Assembly Public Accounts Committee publishes its latest Report on arrangements to ensure the quality of care in of residential care and nursing homes for older people. The delivery of institutional care for older people currently costs the taxpayer in the region of £265 million per year.

Speaking at the launch of the Report, Paul Maskey MLA, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee said: “It is clear that t he majority of older people want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. In practice, this means developing and offering appropriate domiciliary care to older people as a real alternative to institutional care. Despite claims by the Department that the balance of provision is shifting from institutional to care in the home, much more needs to be done.

“It is always hard for families to take a decision for a loved one to go into residential care. But this decision is made more difficult when relevant information about the quality of homes available is not accessible or is incomplete.”

In its report, the Committee recognised that the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) ensures minimum standards are met, in its role as inspector. However, the Committee felt that RQIA could do more to provide information on the quality of homes and impose sanctions where they underperform.

Paul Maskey continued: “The Committee has strong reservations about the effectiveness of announced inspections in providing a sound basis for evaluating standards of care in homes for older people. We are recommending that RQIA should shift the emphasis of its inspection approach so that it carries out more frequent and unannounced inspections.”

The Committee recommended that, in future, information is gathered and presented in a way which shows whether the sector’s performance had improved.

The Chairperson concluded by saying: “We need to remember that older people are potentially among the most vulnerable in society. I would therefore hope that, in response to this report and its recommendations, the Department and RQIA both take the opportunity to improve the experience of all stakeholders involved in the provision of care for older people.”

Notes to Editors:

Around 9,500 older people have been placed by Health and Social Care Trusts (the Trusts) in 490 registered residential care and nursing homes in Northern Ireland.

2. RQIA is responsible for monitoring and inspecting the quality and availability of health and social care services; informing the Department of its findings; and for encouraging improvement.

The membership of the Committee since 9 May 2007 has been as follows:

Mr Paul Maskey 5 (Chairperson)
Mr Trevor Lunn
Mr Roy Beggs (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr John Dallat
Mr Gregory Campbell MP 16  
Mr Patsy McGlone 2 & 8 
Mr William Irwin 14     
Mr Adrian McQuillan 15   
Mr Mitchel McLaughlin
Ms Dawn Purvis 
Mr Stephen Moutray 12 

1 Mr Mickey Brady replaced Mr Willie Clarke on 1 October 2007

2 Mr Ian McCrea replaced Mr Mickey Brady on 21 January 2008

3 Mr Jim Wells replaced Mr Ian McCrea on 26 May 2008

4 Mr Thomas Burns replaced Mr Patsy McGlone on 4 March 2008

5 Mr Paul Maskey replaced Mr John O’Dowd on 20 May 2008

6 Mr George Robinson replaced Mr Simon Hamilton on 15 September 2008

7 Mr Jim Shannon replaced Mr David Hilditch on 15 September 2008

8 Mr Patsy McGlone replaced Mr Thomas Burns on 29 June 2009

9 Mr David Hilditch replaced Mr George Robinson on 18 September 2009

10 Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson replaced Mr Jim Wells on 18 September 2009

11 The Lord Browne replaced Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson on 19 April 2010

12 Mr Stephen Moutray replaced Mr Jonathan Craig on 19 April 2010

13 Mr Jim Shannon resigned from the Public Accounts Committee on 1 August 2010

14 Mr William Irwin replaced Mr David Hilditch on 13 September 2010

15 Mr Adrian McQuillan replaced The Lord Browne on 13 September 2010

16 Mr Gregory Campbell MP was appointed as a member of the Committee on 13 September 2010

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