Two mental health units criticised by inspectors

Connolly Hospital, Dublin

A HSE mental health unit in a Dublin hospital where patients could not access a variety of health services and where communal rooms had a “stark” appearance has been criticised by the Mental Health Commission (MHC).

The Sycamore Unit at Connolly Hospital, which provides a Psychiatry of Later Life service, had “insufficient” staff numbers and skill mix to meet the assessed needs of residents.

Neither did it provide patient access to a physical health occupational therapist, a pharmacist, a social worker, or a psychologist.

In addition, a registered psychiatric nurse was not always on duty or in charge.

MHC inspectors said access to a dietitian “was provided for urgent referrals only, and there were no routine assessments or reviews for any resident”.

Inspectors said the lack of provision of health services for this patient group was “unacceptable”.

Moreover, the unit was “not kept in a good state of repair” and had a stark appearance “not in line with good practice in specialist care of people with dementia”.

HSE management outlined a number of corrective actions to address the shortcomings including ensuring an appropriately qualified staff member was on duty and in charge at all times.

It said it was establishing a working group with management of Connolly Hospital to address the deficit of therapeutic services and that issues regarding maintenance would be communicated to estates in Connolly Hospital.

A 20-bed child and adolescent mental health unit (CAMHS) in Cork also came in for criticism for using CCTV cameras that “had the capability” to transmit a resident’s image to a monitor that was viewed by administration staff, and not just the health professional responsible for the patient.

Éist Linn in Bessborough, Blackrock, was also criticised for breaching the code of practice when using physical restraint; for example, in two cases a doctor did not complete a medical examination of the resident within three hours of the restraint taking place.

Residents also had no access to an occupational therapist at the time of the inspection last February.

The HSE said an occupational therapist is now in post and that there is no longer recording equipment at the centre.

It also said staff would undergo training in physical restraint policy.

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