Security staff used to restrain patients

Reports by the country’s mental health watchdog have raised concerns over the admission of children to unsuitable adult facilities, and the involvement of security staff in the physical restraint of patients.

A total of nine inspection reports of approved centres were published by the Mental Health Commission yesterday. One centre, Willow Grove Adolescent Unit on the grounds of the St Patrick’s Hospital Group, was found to be fully compliant.

The others were mostly compliant across the various categories and many achieved excellent levels of compliance in some areas, but shortcomings were also highlighted.

According to the report into the Avonmore and Glencree Units, Newcastle Hospital — catering for patients in east Wicklow and north Wexford — there was a high risk over the use of physical restraint and the physical layout of a seclusion room.

“Security staff, who did not have access to resident care and treatment plans, were used in the physical restraint of two residents as evidenced by the inspection of clinical practice forms completed on Glencree unit,” the report noted.

As for the seclusion room, it said there was a “notable concern” as “despite the viewing panel in the seclusion room door and the presence of CCTV monitoring, there was an obvious blind spot directly behind the seclusion room door”.

The seclusion room was also an issue at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Merlin Park University Hospital. Even though there was no recorded episode of seclusion in the centre since May 2013, “there were ongoing difficulties with the seclusion facility itself and it was not fit for purpose”.

“There continued to be offensive graffiti on the walls which was evidenced at the inspection in 2014. No improvements had been gained since the inspections in both 2013 and 2014.”

At a standalone unit, located on the grounds of St Loman’s Hospital in Mullingar, there was no nursing staff available in St Edna’s unit for a period of 15 minutes during the inspection and the inspection team could not locate nursing staff to attend to residents’ needs during this time.

At the same centre, one resident had been physically restrained and there was no record of the consultant psychiatrist being informed or of a physical examination of the patient having been carried out. One child had been admitted there on a voluntary basis but inspectors found it was not suitable.

Two children were admitted on a voluntary basis to the Acute Psychiatric Unit at Tallaght Hospital which inspectors said was not suitable, while the report also said there was no evidence of physical examination or anaesthetic assessment prior to the Use of Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) on three residents.

At the Adolescent In-patient Unit at St Vincent’s Hospital in Fairview in Dublin, staff were unable to regulate the temperature, while at St Brigid’s Ward and St Marie Goretti Ward at the Cluain Lir Care Centre in Mullingar, residents’ consent was not always obtained in a case where searches of a resident’s property took place where staff suspected a resident may have taken another resident’s property. 


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