Moves to install cameras in care homes

The HSE has taken the first steps towards the possible installation of surveillance systems in its facilities to protect vulnerable patients in the wake of the Áras Attracta controversy.

A tender published this week calls for the installation of surveillance and security systems to protect vulnerable clients, patients, service users and staff members.

The request came a week after an RTÉ Prime Time investigation produced, via hidden cameras, shocking images of alleged abuses at the Áras Attracta care home in Swinford, Co Mayo. A number of staff are still on leave while investigations are being carried out by the gardaí and the HSE.

The prior information notice published this week indicates the HSE will seek surveillance and security systems and devices, security equipment and closed circuit television services.

Earlier this week HSE director general Tony O’Brien said that the body would investigate the possibility of covertly filming residential care services.

“We’ve placed the necessary notices this week to obtain the appropriate advice from specialists as to how we take this forward in terms of both undercover, open filming which is more straightforward, where it can be done in the open and with everybody knowing about it,” he told RTÉ.

“But where we have specific reasons we need to know whether and in what circumstances we can engage in covert filming in order to protect the interests of people who are in fact the most vulnerable clients we have, and it’s no coincidence that what we’ve seen here is the most vulnerable being abused,” he said.

Junior health minister Kathleen Lynch indicated her support for the installation of CCTV in homes earlier this week.

“I am convinced at this stage, as I have always been, that when it comes to protecting vulnerable people, nothing should be above us. RTÉ did it and it wasn’t illegal, why should it be illegal for the HSE?” she told Morning Ireland.

Meanwhile, the HSE has signalled “a more detailed investigation will be required” into complaints at a care unit for people with intellectual disabilities in Co Tipperary. A total of 11 workers have been placed on leave from St Anne’s Centre near Roscrea. The centre is operated by the Daughters of Charity, which said it received complaints from a former worker last Monday about care practices at two units.

“A professional source, that is a person in the profession, who had a complaint, made the complaint known through an intermediary on Monday last, December 15, and that complaint was made known by the intermediary through two different channels. Firstly, to the provider of the service in Roscrea, the Daughters of Charity and secondly, to the regulator, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa),” a HSE spokesperson said.

Hiqa has carried out an inspection of the centre after receiving complaints about the care of patients. Gardaí have also been notified.

The complaints refer to activity in two units in St Anne’s which operates four houses for long-term residents aged 20 to 60 for people with significant intellectual disabilities.

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