Three of four mental health centres inspected failed to reach 'acceptable standards'

Three out of four mental health centres inspected failed to reach acceptable standards of cleanliness and maintenance, the inspector of mental health services has revealed.

Inspection reports published by the Mental Health Commission on centres in Cork, Westmeath and Louth identified 26 areas of high-risk non-compliance.

The inspector of mental health services, Dr Susan Finnerty, said approved centres must provide clean and well-maintained premises.

However, inspectors who made an unannounced visit to St Michael's Unit in the Mercy University Cork last December found it was noisy and poorly maintained. The 50-bed unit is on the first floor of the hospital was not kept in a good state of repair and inspectors found no evidence of a programme of general or decorative maintenance.

While the unit was clean, the centre has not been compliant with the regulations on privacy, premises and staffing for three consecutive years. The centre was cramped. There was no access to appropriately-sized communal rooms and it did not have a sitting room.

Carrig Mór Centre in Shanakiel, County Cork, is an 18-bed psychiatric care unit and inspectors found it was dirty when they made an unannounced visit last October. Their report states: “The level of cleanliness and the condition of the toilet and showering facilities were of a poor standard, something that compromised the dignity of residents."

It was also the third consecutive year that the centre failed to comply with the regulation on premises.

While there was ongoing maintenance of the centre that opened in 2002, the inspectors found it was not a suitable building for psychiatric intensive care. Residents told the inspectors they would like a more home-like environment with brighter rooms. They also wanted improvements to the grey steel doors and for the unit to be less noisy.

The Admission Unit and St Enda's Unit at St Loman's Hospital in Mullingar, County Westmeath, was dirty when inspectors made an unannounced visit last October.

St Enda's Ward provides continuing care for male residents, and there were 11 residents there at the time of the inspection. The ward has accommodation for up to 20 residents. The admissions ward is an acute facility. Two residents were there for more than six months and there were eight vacancies at the time.

The centre was not clean and hygienic and it was not in a good state of repair, with broken ceiling panes, cracked glass in the conservatory, and two broken doors. There was rubbish on the ground of the courtyard and cigarette butts in the garden. The maintenance programme was inadequate and reactive.

Inspectors also made an unannounced visit in July last year to Drogheda Department of Psychiatry, Co Louth, a 46-bed purpose-built acute mental health unit that had 44 residents at the time and found it was clean and well maintained internally with access to gardens.

However, compliance with regulations, rules and codes of practice decreased between 2016 (77%) and 2018 (66%).

Serious shortcomings were identified in the ordering, prescribing, storing, and administration of medicines. Inspectors also found the centre had a "high risk" rating of non-compliance in the use of physical restraint.

All four centres provided corrective and preventative plans to the commission that will seek updates on these in three months.

Responding to the findings this evening a spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, who oversee two facilities cited in the report, said the group acknowledge and accept the reports into the two Cork Kerry Community Healthcare facilities published today.

"Our staff work very hard to provide a high level of care and to meet regulatory standards, and it is a matter of concern for us when those standards aren’t met.

"The issues identified by the Commission are being addressed locally, and we have agreed Corrective and Preventative Plans (CAPAs) with the Commission.

"Progress in relation to these plans will be reviewed with the Commission in three months time."

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