By Noel BakerSenior Reporter and Social Affairs Correspondent
Health watchdog Hiqa has claimed there was evidence of “direct obstruction to safeguarding incidents” at a HSE-run facility for people with disabilities, leading to resident distress and with the HSE seemingly powerless to fully investigate the person responsible.
The situation at Camphill Community, Ballytobin, Co Kilkenny, was detailed in an inspection report, one of 18 published by Hiqa.
The report outlined how the centre was previously operated by the Camphill Communities of Ireland but, due to high levels of non-compliance and risk to the residents, Hiqa had given notice of its decision to cancel its registration last May.
That resulted in the HSE taking over the running of the centre and Hiqa said while “a commitment was made for a smooth transition in the best interests of the residents, this had not occurred in practice”.
Central to this was a finding of major non-compliance relating to safeguarding and safety issues at the centre, which had 17 residents at the time of the inspection.
The report said: “There was evidence of direct obstruction to safeguarding arrangements which the provider needed to address. There was also evidence that plans being made to address and safeguard the long-term well-being of the residents were being hindered by the previous provider’s lack of provision of necessary information to the current provider and the actions of some long-term co-workers.”
HIQA said it received a notification of a situation “which was both physically and psychologically abusive to a resident”, lasting some hours and which took place after the HSE took over the running of the centre.
Hiqa said it was concerned that, during that time, no management in the centre were alerted by agency or employed staff present at the time. When managers were alerted, immediate action was taken and the person was suspended from duty, but according to Hiqa, “due to the status of the person this matter can only be fully investigated and dealt with by the previous provider.
In addition to this and of more concern was the deliberate lack of adherence to an interim safeguarding plan and the subsequent significant negative impact this had on residents.”
It said both co-workers living in one unit and two others who were requested not to enter in the interests of residents’ safety, pending full due process investigations and without prejudice, had failed to co-operate with this instruction.
“This action placed residents at potential of serious risk,” said the report. “Despite significant intervention by the current provider, staff and managers, the persons concerned refused to cooperate despite the impact on the residents. This ultimately necessitated the traumatic and immediate removal of a number of residents for their protection.”
The report also claimed that the previous provider who retained control over the person concerned did not intervene effectively for more than 24 hours.
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