‘Inspection regime flawed’ at care centres for disabled

The standard of Hiqa inspections into centres for people with disabilities has been questioned, with a new report claiming that failures to fully inspect some facilities could result in "concealment of abusive care practices".

‘Inspection regime flawed’ at care centres for disabled

The report, compiled for Inclusion Ireland, looks in depth at the first 50 Hiqa inspections of residential services for people with disabilities and argues that while, in general, the inspection regime has helped to identify shortcomings in the system, some aspects of it are flawed.

The two researchers who compiled the report argue that while the term ‘centre’ is generally used in the reports, in reality, not all centres are fully inspected, and those parts that are can be a single house, a campus of houses or houses located in different areas.

It also claimed: “It is not clear how many residents were included and how many fell below the inspection radar.

“Partial inspections may be complicit with concealment of abusive care practices in unexamined units.”

The authors also claim that “a majority of inspections were announced, contrary to Hiqa’s own guidelines”, while some reports contained errors.

It also found:

- The voices of residents with a disability are either “faint or absent entirely” in the reports;

- Many of the inspections are ‘partial’, only looking at some units in a centre;

- The inspecting and reporting model is “heavily biased towards the medical model of disability”;

- Very high non-compliance in areas affecting residents in a daily way;

- Question marks over possible grading discrepancies and over possible ‘averaging out’ of grades.

Hundreds of subsequent inspections have taken place since those which form the basis for this report, but Inclusion Ireland said that, in light of cases such as the Áras Attracta care centre in Swinford uncovered last year, it was imperative that inspections result in a general rise in standards, thereby making abuse harder to conceal.

Citing recent exposés the report said: “Their impacts on public opinion would suggest that more unannounced visits may be necessary to restore confidence in the inspection regime.”

The CEO of Inclusion Ireland, Paddy Connolly, said the report highlighted how the inspection regime needed to focus on “quality of life outcomes” and the views of the residents and their families every bit as much as health and safety concerns.

He said of the inspections: “They are predominantly done through a health and safety lens. The reason we are identifying this is it is important that this change comes about.”

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