Written Answers. - Nursing Homes.

Noel Ahern

Question:

589 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the procedures and systems in place for ongoing approval, vetting and inspection of private nursing homes catering mainly for the elderly in view of the numerous complaints concerning high charges, low staff levels and lack of nursing or medical care; if nursing homes are approved generally or specifically for a particular category of case and dependancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20029/00]

The Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990, requires nursing homes to be registered with their local health board. Regulations made under the Act require that there must be proper standards in nursing homes, including adequate and suitable accommodation, staffing, kitchen and sanitary facilities, access to medical care, facilities for recreation and other arrangements to ensure the health and well-being of residents. Nursing homes are required to renew their registration every three years. A health board may impose conditions in relation to registration, including a ceiling on the number of persons who may be accommodated in a home. The regulations provide for periodic inspections by the health boards, which are empowered to prosecute registered proprietors and persons in charge in the event of breaches of the regulations. Neither the Act nor the regulations impose any restrictions on private nursing home charges, as this is a matter for determination by the proprietors of individual homes.