The Mental Health Commission has identified one critical and five high-risk non-compliance ratings at two of the country’s in-patient mental health units.
In the inspection reports into units at st Stephen's Hospital in Glanmire in Co Cork and Selskar House in Co Wexford, the MHC said both had improved their overall compliance by 11% and 9% from the previous year, yet there were still risks in the areas of premises and privacy, "with general disrepair and an inadequate maintenance system of particular concern".
Units 2, 3, 4 and Unit 8 (Floor 2) in St Stephen's Hospital were inspected last September. The centre had 87 beds and comprised of four buildings co-located within the 117-acre grounds at St. Stephen’s Hospital and provided acute and continuing care.
Its overall level of compliance has increased since 2017 and inspectors found many examples of good practice, but some issues still remained, chiefly concerns over the actual building, with a 'critical' risk rating regarding Premises.
"In 2018, the inspection team found that the state of the premises was a critical risk, principally due to the inadequate maintenance of the buildings and the limited showering facilities relative to the number of residents on Unit 8," it said.
"Corrective action plans to address these issues were authored by the service; however, they were not implemented. Consequently, in 2019, the inspection team found no improvement concerning the premises. Whilst funding for the development of new showering facilities on Unit 8 was approved, it was unclear why plans for redevelopment did not proceed. The meeting minutes from various governance meetings indicated that there was limited oversight and management of the project at both a local and an organisational level. Numerous maintenance issues were noted throughout the approved centre, and whilst many had been reported to the maintenance team, they had been awaiting repair for many months. Communication from the maintenance team was limited and nursing management had attempted to progress particular issues but with minimal results.
"The approved centre was not kept in a good state of repair externally and internally," it said, noting that in Unit 8 there was one shower for 18 residents.
Regarding Selskar House, Farnogue Residential Healthcare Unit in Wexford, last July's inspection found a good level of overall compliance in what is a modern facility for 20 residents.
There were concerns over some privacy and general health issues.
In addition, one resident’s bedroom window was broken and the resulting draft caused the resident discomfort and two residents had to eat their meals at a table on the corridor across from the dining room due to lack of space.
It also said the approved centre was not maintained in a good state of repair internally.
Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly, said: “When people are residing in our mental health centres, it is important that they are treated in a manner that is consistent to how they would be cared for by loved ones at home.
“It is not acceptable that residents are not afforded the appropriate levels of privacy in their bedrooms, or that residents had to eat their meals at a table in a corridor. These are matters that are simply not satisfactory in a modern-day mental health service.”