Anne Hailes: RQIA raising care standards & 'bees' doing vital work

Little Bees sing at a charity concert in aid of the BUMBLEance at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin last Friday

THE Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) is responsible for inspecting the availability and quality of health and social care services in Northern Ireland – and they want to improve their service to the public.

To do this, they pay scheduled visits and unannounced calls to the likes of nursing homes, hospitals, residential care and domiciliary care agencies, dental practices, clinics – even prisons – throughout the north.

Now, they’ve launched a membership scheme to give people the opportunity to report their personal experience of care services. This is welcome as, on so many occasions, there are problems you’d love to voice but don’t know how to do it or where to go to make your comments.

Now such observations can be used to upgrade services with RQIA working in partnership with the public.

The point of these reports is to provide information to the organisation being examined to help them fulfil their responsibilities, enhance practice and patients experience.

Prepaid membership postcards are in libraries, doctor practices and care centres setting out details of membership, or you can sign up on the website below. This can only be good news for the pubic who quite naturally want the best service possible.

The website is fascinating. Here you will find out the many aspects of RQIA’s work but one of the most useful comes under ‘Inspections’, where you can read detailed reports for ‘regulated adult services, mental health and learning disability facilities’.

This covers many areas; as an example I clicked on ‘Dental’ and up came the map of Northern Ireland showing the main towns highlighted and the number of surgeries in each. I honed in on my own dentist and up came the details, names, address, telephone number and the most recent examination results. Thankfully, my surgery came out with top marks!

So, if you’re considering a nursing home, for example, you can put its name into the box, press search and get the information before making your choice.

More interesting and important details at

:: Zuube Zuube Doo

I love TV ads, apart from the of the manic Zuube Doo Ribena offering from Tigermonkey! Most are little gems: a storyline, top film makers and great music.

But it makes me laugh watching the Citroen commercial where a dad rushes out of the house with a mug of coffee in hand, sets it on the roof and drives off to drop his daughter at school and then on to work.

He screeches to a halt in the car park and not a drop has been spilt no matter the speed or road conditions – this is a ‘steady’ car! So, he jumps out, grabs his jacket and his brief case slams the door and, as he reaches for the mug of coffee he spills it on the roof. Is this a mistake, or is it a subtle joke?

Create your own bee drinking station out of a bowl and some marbles

:: Lovely Idea from Greig Keyes

"Help the bees with a drinking station. Simply put marbles (available in pound shops) in a container and nearly cover with water so they can sit and drink at their leisure. Remember to top-up occasionally. Apparently, they are attracted by the glistening colours."

I imagine that if you were to mix a little sugar into the water, these marvels of nature would appreciate it even more.

There is worry about the decline in bee numbers because they are vital to our everyday life. Why? They pollinate an estimated one-third of all food crops and, as they can fly up to 15 miles an hour, they certainly get around – visiting some 100 flowers a day. The worker bee covers an amazing 500 miles in his three weeks of life.

However, there’s hope for the future. Just 48 hours after mating, the queen begins her lifelong task of laying eggs – on average about 1,500 eggs a day. Obviously, she has no time for any other chores, so attendant workers take care of all her grooming and feeding.

But she’s worth it: in her lifetime, she might lay up to 1 million eggs, so all is not lost.

Little Bees sing at a charity concert in aid of the BUMBLEance at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin last Friday

:: BUMBLEance

Bees come in all shapes and sizes and nowhere are they more active than when working within the Saoirse Foundation, an all-Ireland charity based in Co Kerry with the sole objective of caring for sick children, giving them and their parents positive help and support.

The charity was founded eight years ago by Tony and Mary Heffernan after their daughter, Saoirse, was diagnosed with Batten Disease, a rare and fatal neurological condition.

They were left in limbo: no information, nowhere to turn for advice. So they rectified this themselves by setting up a charity to raise awareness and become involved in medical research.

When their son Liam was also diagnosed with Batten Disease, they decided to include children suffering from other chronic and life limited conditions. They called their support network ‘Bee for Battens’ – it went global and became a founder member of Batten Disease International Alliance, with Tony as the first president.

The second project was the BUMBLEance, the famous ambulance service for children. In 2014, Liam was the first patient to travel home from hospital for the last time with his parents beside him on board BUMBLEance.

There are now seven ambulances with two more to come. They are upgraded Mercedes Benz vehicles transformed into the most modern children’s ambulance service on the planet – and the world’s first interactive vehicle purposefully designed for children.

The latest medical equipment, inter-hospital communications and an entertainment system featuring TV, Playstation, iPad, Netflix, music and DVDs.

Onboard Wi-fi is important to the adults wishing to stay in touch with family members as they sometimes travel long distances between hospital and home.

The third project planned is Liam’s Lodge in Co Kerry, which will provided respite for families who care for children suffering debilitating illness and life limited conditions throughout the island of Ireland.

More information at and

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