20 July 2016

Augustinas Normantas3After visiting social care institutions in Klaipėda and Šiauliai districts, the Seimas Ombudsman Augustinas Normantas came to a conclusion that a lack of privacy in elderly homes is the most significant problem.

“There are still many walking straight into residents' rooms without knocking and they are not allowed locking the doors from inside. Moreover, there is not enough private space in the residents' rooms and there are no lockers for personal belongings. Sadly, medical check-ups are undertaken in front of strangers and without using folding screens to provide temporary privacy,” the Seimas Ombudsman A. Normantas highlighted in his report.

There is limited attention paid towards promotion of healthy ageing of elderly. Self-management is not encouraged either: “Residents are not encouraged to use cutlery. Also, a focus on regaining physical ability is poor.”

The employees of the Human Rights Division of the Seimas Ombudsmen's Office's have established that the non-qualified personnel dispense medicines in social care institutions. What is more, there are numerous establishments where nurses are absent on weekends and holidays and during that time their functions are fulfilled by the non-qualified personnel.

Further, the Seimas Ombudsman noted, that medical records on health progress of residents are poorly or improperly managed in some entities: “Many institutions still use drugs after their expiration date.”

Another significant problem is non–existence of individual social care plans. In several nursing homes, they are drawn up for residents without an assessment of their needs or are developed even in absence of the residents. Further, the progress of health status of elderly people is poorly recorded in individual social care plans.

“These plans should be developed following specific needs of residents by devoting more time talking to them,” the Seimas Ombudsman remarked in his report.

The Seimas Ombudsman has also placed emphasis on the importance of an appropriate health data management, including data collection and storage. Among provided recommendations, the need to encourage individuals living in social care facilities to use crockery and cutlery and prepare meal for themselves was highlighted.

In the opinion of the Seimas Ombudsman, the managers of institutions should seek to make the environment of residential rooms similar to that at home.

“Residents also should have a possibility to individualise their quarters and keep personal belongings safe there. Moreover, privacy in hygiene premises is a must,” noted A. Normantas.

In the course of the visits to social care institutions, several human rights violations concerning safeguarding privacy were established. The Seimas Ombudsman recommended the Department of Supervision of Social Services to prepare guidelines for the managers on assurance of privacy by imposing the duties on personnel to safeguard privacy of the residents.