Hiqa got more than 4,000 reports of serious injuries to care home residents in 2013

Nursing home inspectors received 373 reports of alleged, suspected or confirmed abuse of older people last year.

Watchdog the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) said it received 5,362 alerts of potentially harmful events in care homes up and down the country.

Among them were 4,246 reports of serious injury to a resident.

More than three quarters of the notifications received during 2013 related to serious incidents involving residents and 293 were related to an outbreak of an infectious disease.

Phelim Quinn, Hiqa’s director of regulation and chief inspector of social services, said despite the high figures, safety and quality standards are improving.

But he warned: “It is clear from this report that there are areas where further improvement is required and we will focus on these areas as part of our continued regulatory activities.”

The Hiqa report is the first annual overview on the regulation of nursing homes since the rules were introduced more than four years ago.

Its report said inspectors carried out 814 checks of 565 residential centres for older people in 2013.

The notifications – which nursing home managers are legally obliged to report to Hiqa – included 171 reports of unexplained absence and 95 allegations of misconduct by the centre or anyone working there.

Hiqa said it received unsolicited information 355 times relating to 213 centres last year, most of which came from concerned relatives of residents.

Age Action said it was concerned about the high level of serious injuries reporrted by nursing homes and the notifications of abuse.

“The report not only highlights the great need which exists for an independent inspection authority, but also the need for nursing home management to improve their service when it comes to issues of health and safety and risk management,” spokesman Eamon Timmins said.

“This must involve training, supervision and strict adherence to the existing procedures and protocols.”

Nursing Homes Ireland said that of the 565 registered care centres and homes, one was forced to close last year.

“NHI recognises the critical role of Hiqa in supporting care provision and will continue to be proactive in engagement with the authority to continually drive improvements in care delivery for older persons in residential care,” the organisation said.

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