Hiqa probes disability centre failings

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) sought a top-level meeting about a centre for women with disabilities in Cork, demanding reassurances that serious problems at the centre be addressed immediately.

The St Vincent’s Centre was home to 39 women at the time of the inspection by Hiqa, the health watchdog, last April. There were major problems in a number of areas, not least over fire safety, and there had been a “significant fire incident” earlier that month.

Inspectors also saw Post-it notes being used in some residents’ healthcare files, one of which had personal information on it (the resident’s national intellectual disability database number) creating concerns about confidentiality.

The information in the care plans was inadequate to guide staff and, in particular, agency staff, on which the centre was reliant.

From March 29 this year, following two earlier, critical Hiqa inspections, the registration of the centre was cancelled under the Health Act, 2007 and the Health Service Executive took charge of it.

According to the report, this meant a number of outstanding issues still needed to be resolved, including how “Hiqa had been notified of alleged financial irregularities, potentially involving residents’ finances”, with a final report due to be issued.

The Hiqa inspection found major non-compliance with regulations against every standard assessed at the centre. In response, the HSE issued an action plan, committing to remedying all the problems.

The fire had occurred in the “smoking room” of the centre and required the emergency services, who outlined a number of significant issues that needed to be addressed to ensure that a similar incident did not occur.

Some measures were taken, but the report said not all matters had been addressed, including the location of, and the use of, the smoking room.

The person in charge told Hiqa that one of the residents was inappropriately placed in the centre and, while there was a plan to have them discharged, there was a lack of clarity over aspects of the process.

Due to the seriousness of the findings, Hiqa sought a meeting with the Office of the Chief Inspector. That led to a meeting later in April, where assurances were sought in relation to the safe care and welfare of the residents.

Meanwhile, 10 other Hiqa inspection reports were also published, with good progress and practice at many of the facilities reviewed.

However, given major non-compliance in all five outcomes inspected at the HSE’s Ocean Crescent centre in Sligo, an immediate action was issued to the provider, due to significant concerns identified in relation to fire evacuation procedures and alerting of the fire service in the event of an outbreak.

At the HSE-run Edencrest & Riverside facility, in Co Donegal, four out of five outcomes were found to be in major non-compliance, including inadequate staffing levels to meet the social care and behavioural support needs of residents.

Some issues, including those involving fire safety, were raised in the inspection report for the Drogheda Sean O’Hare Unit, also run by the HSE.

Significant improvements were required at the HSE’s Suaimhneas centre, in Sligo, with the inspector identifying four major non-compliances in five outcomes inspected.


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