The family of a 92-year-old resident in one of the nursing homes run by private company Aperee Living that was recently shut down has described the upheaval as the “most stressful period”.
Three of the ten nursing homes run by Aperee have been ordered to close by the State’s healthcare regulator since September, due to governance shortcomings and concerns for residents’ safety.
There are around 350 residents living in the seven nursing homes Aperee continues to run across the country.
Aperee announced in August that it planned to close its 68-bed home in Belgooly, Co Cork following a financial review, with families of residents informed the facility would shut in February 2024.
However, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) stepped in due to growing concerns and cancelled Aperee’s registration to run the facility on October 25th.
Siobhan O’Donovan, from west Cork, whose mother Judy O’Donovan (92), had been a resident in the Belgooly home for four years, said the closure caused significant “disruption” for residents and their families.
“There had been people who had lived in that home for 15 years … There was a lot of confusion,” she said.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) was brought in to manage the home while places were found for residents in other facilities.
Families had to scramble to try and secure beds in other nursing homes at short notice, Ms O’Donovan said.
Her mother was offered a place in a nursing home 30 miles away and another place in a four-bed “ward”, which the family felt were inappropriate, she said. “It’s her home, not just a bed to lie down on and sleep,” she said.
At one point Ms O’Donovan cleared out a room in her home, in case they did not find a suitable nursing home. “If she had to, she could have stayed with me, but she needs more care that I can provide,” she said. In the end the family were able to secure a room in a “fabulous” nursing home, she said.
Her mother, who has vascular dementia, did not appear to know “what was going on” during the closure of the Aperee home. However, it was an incredibly stressful time for the family, she said.
When it came to Aperee she said the business had “failed”, but could not fault the frontline staff in the home who she said had been “fantastic”.
The HSE’s process for finding spaces in alternative nursing homes for residents felt like a “tick box” exercise, Ms O’Donovan said.
“We weren’t looking for a room, we were looking for a home”, she said. “I felt the whole thing was handled without compassion,” she said.
Ms O’Donovan said there was a problem when the healthcare system was “closing” care homes.
There should be some emergency State funding scheme to allow another provider to come in and take over a nursing home due to be closed by Hiqa, she said. “The last answer should have been to shut it down”, she said.
A HSE spokeswoman said staff had worked with residents and their families to find places in other nursing homes in the region following the closure of Aperee Living Belgooly.
“Staff were very aware that this was a difficult time for residents and families, and offered all appropriate supports in a considered and compassionate way,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Aperee said the company “is engaging with all relevant authorities where appropriate, and every effort is being made to ensure the future success of the homes within the portfolio”.