Concerns raised over patient safety in disability centres

Serious concerns over patient safety in a number of HSE-run disability centres have been raised.

In a series of reports, inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) highlighted a range of failings in four HSE-run centres in Cork, Donegal, Kilkenny, and Westmeath.

In unannounced inspections in May and June at St Raphael’s in Cork, 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 also discovered another resident had not been provided with adequate food and nutrition for in excess of 18 hours. Unsafe medicines administration practices were also observed.

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

Hiqa said that, at a meeting with the person in charge in Ard na Greine in Donegal, its inspectors were “categorically” told there had been no incidents, suspicions, allegations, or investigations of abuse” in the centre since regulation began in 2013.

However, it subsequently found that a number of allegations had been made and that formal investigations had taken place.

Following a review of the documentation provided by the person in charge, inspectors concluded there was “a significant risk to the safety of residents as a consequence of seriously inadequate safeguarding arrangements in the centre”.

A number of staff informed inspectors that when they raised safeguarding concerns they were either not listened to or felt they were seen as “trouble makers”.

In Kilkenny, Hiqa raised concerns that incidents of peer-to-peer abuse were not being reported to the chief inspector as required in the Our Lady’s Centre.

In Millmount, Westmeath, Hiqa found governance systemswere inadequate, ineffective, and did not ensure the service provided was safe, appropriate to residents’ needs, consistent, and effectively monitored.

Disability minister Finian McGrath said the findings were of “great concern”.

The HSE said a comprehensive programme of work is under way to address these issues as quickly as possible.


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