Eating disorder centre had no input from medical specialist

An inspection of Ireland’s only dedicated residential centre for the treatment of eating disorders found it had no input from a medical specialist or medical facility.

Eating disorder centre had no input from medical specialist

The Lois Bridges centre in North County Dublin was also criticised for not having a psychiatric nurse on duty at all times. In addition, inspectors from the Mental Health Commission found the “skills and expertise of staffing were not adequate for the care and treatment of a resident with severe mental illness” and, critically, “there was no admission criteria to ensure that residents were not admitted if too physically or mentally ill to be treated in Lois Bridges”.

Other deficits identified during the inspection last March included:

  • Only one consultant psychiatrist (who was also the clinical director) who was available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, with cover for planned leave. Inspectors said: “This was neither a safe practice for residents nor the consultant”.
  • Numerous ligature anchor points which had “not been effectively mitigated”.
  • For 25% of the time, a registered psychiatric nurse was not in charge during daytime hours and night time hours. This issue was identified in last year’s inspection report.
  • Care and treatment of two residents constituted a risk to their safety.

Meanwhile, on a positive note, four service users met with the inspection team and were complimentary about the staff and environment. All “highly praised the care they were receiving and said that the staff were supportive, approachable, and motivating”.

Inspectors said the physical environment “provided an opportunity for residents to maintain and improve their mental and general health, with adequate indoor and convenient and attractive outdoor spaces”.

Lois Bridges, which has seven residential beds, also provides daycare, and treats anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders.

Yesterday, director of services Lilly Molloy said they had been working with the commission to ensure full compliance and had made a number of adjustments since March.

She said the centre now had a specialist registrar.

They had also made changes to their admission criteria because the commission “needed something more elaborate”. She said the centre had “done a lot of work” on linking in with a medical facility and if patients are deemed too ill to be admitted to Lois Bridges, “they are sent to Beaumont for investigation”.

In relation to the unavailability of a psychiatric nurse on occasions, Ms Molloy said there was a shortage of registered psychiatric nurses in Ireland. In relation to the concerns around the safety of two patients, the centre said a shortage of beds in acute hospitals and long waiting periods when trying to transfer a client to psychiatric hospitals was an issue.

Also, hospital clinical directors were “constantly trying to refer clients to our services because they don’t have eating disorders’ expertise in their hospital or health centre”.

Ms Molloy said all issues raised by the commission have been rectified.

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