Care home failed to intervene despite mother's requests

An investigation is under way into why a HSE-funded care home failed to provide timely medical intervention to a disabled person who is now very ill — despite requests from the person’s mother to intervene on her adult child’s behalf.

The case is one of 21 concerns and complaints about HSE-funded services raised with independent confidential recipient, Leigh Gath, that remained under investigation as of December 31, 2016.

The case in question, which raised safeguarding concerns, refers to a person who has lived with the same service provider for many years, but with family very involved.

According to Ms Gath: “Mom reported various medical concerns she had to the provider and requested medical intervention. It appears this took many months for the provider to provide this. This person is now very ill and an investigation is under way to determine what happened.”

The HSE told the Irish Examiner: “This case is currently under investigation and would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”

Ms Gath, who was appointed in December 2014 to be a voice for vulnerable adults, recorded an increase in complaints against all HSE divisions in 2016, compared to the previous year. The area most complained about was social care, accounting for 80% of all concerns received, and representing a significant 61% hike on 2015.

The community health organisation against which most complaints were made — 46 of 220 — covers Kerry, North Cork, North Lee, South Lee and West Cork.

Overall, the office of the confidential recipient received 220 concerns and complaints in 2016, an increase of 85%, or 101 additional complaints, compared to 2015.

The report also found:

  • After social care, mental health services — both hospital and day care — was the area most complained about, representing 13% of concerns raised with Ms Gath;
  • There was a reduction in the number of safeguarding concerns from 54 in 2015, to 41 in 2016;
  • The type of concerns raised include safeguarding, client placement/planning, access to equipment, level of staff to support client, financial charges, staff behaviour, safety of care and other issues. In fact there was a 94% increase in client placement/planning complaints, up from 35 in 2015 to 68 last year and a 50% hike in complaints about the level of staff support to clients;
  • Where concerns were raised in relation to alleged abuse, these included physical, sexual, psychological, financial, neglect, discrimination and institutional abuse.

Ms Gath said “lack of communication between HSE staff and families “has also, at times, been raised as an issue”.

She also pointed out that although the number of concerns has “risen considerably” “on a positive note, more staff are having the courage to come forward if they have a concern about the treatment of residents in the service they work in”.

Contact confidential recipient Leigh Gath at . Lo Call 1890 100014 or write to her at the Vocational Training Centre, Dooradoyle, Co Limerick.

Cases investigated

Case study: Safeguarding

People with severe intellectual disabilities were told they were being moved away from the home they had lived in for many years as a cost-saving measure. This is not in line with the HSE’s own policies and the move was stopped.

Families are now satisfied that these people will be left in what is their home and will not be moved, unless down the road there is medical justification.

Case study: Respite

This person had been waiting several years or more to get respite services put in place for their family member, who could have violent outbursts and needed constant supervision. This was finally sorted towards the end of the year when it was realised the situation was at a critical point for the family.

Case study: Delayed discharge

This person received a very serious spinal cord injury several years ago, but after initial treatment and rehab in the National Rehabilitation Hospital, they were then transferred back to an acute hospital bed because of lack of funding to resource the amount of support they needed to move back home.

They came to this office in the summer and eventually the funding was found to allow them to move back to the community with the appropriate high level supports they need, which included nursing support as well as round-the-clock PA services.

This person is happy to be back in the community and working towards getting back to life in their community.


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