Abuse claims in disability centre were not investigated

Disability Minister Finian McGrath said the Hiqa findings were of "great concern"

A resident in a HSE-run disability centre in Cork made 15 complaints of physical abuse in less than a month which were not correctly followed up.

In a damning report, following unannounced inspections in May and June at St Raphael’s in Youghal, Co Cork, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) found that the HSE, as the service provider, had “failed to demonstrate that the service provided was safe, appropriate to residents’ needs or effectively monitored”.

Inspectors found that one resident had made 15 complaints of physical abuse in less than a month and that these had not been correctly followed up.

Hiqa noted that, other than recording when the resident said someone “hit me” there was no evidence of screening of these specific allegations of abuse to establish if an abusive act could have occurred and if there were reasonable grounds for concern.

Inspectors also found that one resident had not been provided with adequate food and nutrition for a period in excess of 18 hours.

Staff informed Hiqa that this was due to inadequate numbers of staff available at that time to assist the resident to get out of bed.

Unsafe medicines administration practices were also observed, in particular in relation to the delayed administration of antimicrobial medicines and the use of ‘rescue’ medicines prescribed for the management of epileptic seizures.

Hiqa noted that such practices could lead to “potentially catastrophic” results and have fatal impacts on patients.

The Youghal facility had restrictive conditions placed on its registration last November after previous Hiqa findings.

In a statement, the HSE acknowledged issues raised and moved to “reassure residents and their families that a comprehensive programme of work is underway to address these issues as quickly as possible”.

Disability Minister Finian McGrath said the Hiqa findings were of “great concern” and it was clear that “huge improvements are still needed in many places”.

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