Residential Centre’s infirm residents open to abuse

A residential centre for people with disabilities failed to protect them from abuse, the State’s health services watchdog has found.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) published inspection reports on two Stewarts Care Limited centres in Palmerstown, Dublin.

Serious shortcomings were found in both centres in previous inspections, and Hiqa warned that it was considering cancelling the centres’ registrations.

Stewarts Care had told Hiqa it was taking action to comply with the regulations and standards.

However, the authority found that the action fell short of what was needed. It told the provider to implement a six-month governance-improvement plan, which is being monitored closely.

Inspectors, who made an unannounced visit last December to one of the centres — which had 38 residents — found that its service was unsafe and had failed to protect residents from abuse.

Inspectors found that all incidents of safeguarding in the centre since the last inspection had not been responded to properly.

One resident who spoke to inspectors made an allegation of assault against another resident. The resident did not want to continue living there.

Inspectors raised “serious concerns” about the nutritional and fluid intake of residents and sought immediate, written assurances from the provider on the matter.

They also found that medication practices in the centre did not ensure that the residents were appropriately protected.

An announced inspection last December of another Stewarts Care centre — which had 27 residents — revealed “significant failings”.

While changes were made to the management teams, it was not evident that the arrangements were having a positive effect on the quality and safety of care.

An action plan from a previous inspection had been partially implemented and significant improvements in the quality of life of some residents were identified.

However, risks in relation to the provision of healthcare and medication-management practices remained a concern.

Inspectors also found that adequate staffing levels were not consistently provided and the nursing care did not always meet the assessed needs of residents.

While efforts had been made to improve the privacy and dignity of residents, the inspectors found evidence of institutional practices.

A statement from Stewarts Care said it is already “well-advanced” in the management of a programme of change to address issues highlighted in Hiqa reports and in third-party assessments that it commissioned.

It said that the scale of change required is substantial and requires investment beyond the resources ordinarily on hand to Stewarts Care.

That programme of change is being managed under the terms of a governance improvement plan, agreed with Hiqa, for change across Stewarts Care services, which cater for 260 residents,” said the statement.

“The implementation of that plan is subject to monthly reporting to Hiqa, with a particular focus on safety and quality of life.”

Hiqa published 17 inspection reports yesterday. Five centres were found to have a good level of compliance with the regulations and standards, including those operated by Kerry Parents’ and Friends’ Association.


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