The shocking “Grace” case showed what can go wrong when the protection a person entrusted to a care service does not inform decision making in that process.
Just last week “Grace” was awarded €6.3 million because of her decades-long abuse while in the care of the State.
That her grievous situation was fully understood by health workers adds to the scandal. That scandal underlines again the absence of any effective policy accountability, especially retrospective accountability, in our public affairs.
“Grace’s” tragedy can have one positive outcome, however — it is now impossible to ignore the Hiqa report for 2016 which found a need to address issues around disability, the care of older people, children’s services and healthcare institutions.
The report also argued that legislation is needed to better protect those reliant on care services. Hiqa found that people with intellectual disadvantages were exposed to a quality of life “well below that which would be expected for citizens in 21st century Ireland”.
In some residences for older people clients said they were afraid of the staff. In 75% of the foster care services inspected, updated garda vetting of reviews of their ability to care for children had not taken place.
These are the most vulnerable people in society and this report shows again that we must do much more to protect them if we are to avoid charges of gross hypocrisy and institutionalised cruelty.
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