HSE takes over at residential centre in Kilkenny

Major shortcomings at a County Kilkenny residential centre for adults and children with disabilities, now managed by the HSE, are set out in three reports published by the State’s health services watchdog.

The HSE took over management of the Camphill Communities of Ireland centre in Ballytobin on Tuesday after the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) cancelled its registration.

Hiqa said there was an “ongoing failure” by Camphill Communities of Ireland to address “serious safeguarding” issues at the centre.

The watchdog carried out three inspections of the centre earlier this year — one in February and two in May. The centre has been operating at Ballytobin since 1979 and has 19 residents with intellectual disabilities.

The HSE took charge of the centre after Camphill Communities of Ireland accepted Hiqa’s decision to cancel its registration. It admitted in a letter to the HSE that it did not have the capacity to ensure residents were safe within the centre.

Hiqa also found shortcomings in other centres operated by Camphill Communities of Ireland, particularly relating to protecting residents from the risk of abuse.

While improvements were made in safeguarding arrangments in the other centres, this was not the case at Ballytobin — Hiqa said it received information about the centre that made it more concerned about the safety of its residents.

An announced registration inspection of the Ballytobin centre in May last year had to be suspended so safeguarding issues could be addressed immediately. A further inspection in October 2016 found that management had not done enough to improve safeguarding, particularly about the supervision of staff, including voluntary co-workers.

After the October 2016 inspection, Hiqa received information about incidents of “intimate care and physical restraint practices” in the centre that could be considered abusive.

Last December, Hiqa warned the centre that it wanted to cancel its registration and that it should undertake a review of all allegations or incidents of abuse or staff misconduct.

Hiqa was later informed about allegations of serious physical and sexual abuse of vulnerable people, some of whom could not speak for themselves, and alerted the gardaí, the Child and Family Agency (Tusla), and the National Safeguarding Office of the HSE.

The HSE said the serious concerns raised by Hiqa in the inspection reports will be fully addressed. It will keep the centre open, and residents can stay there if they wish.

A HSE review of all of the Camphill Communities of Ireland centres is underway.

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