Adults with disabilities were ‘assaulted’ at Limerick centre

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

The Daughters of Charity base at St Vincent's Centre, in Lisnagry. The HIQA report concerned two separate houses and identified failings
A PUBLIC watchdog report revealed this week that some adults with intellectual disabilities in a local residential centre were physically and verbally assaulted, and in one case it was ongoing for a number of years.

A PUBLIC watchdog report revealed this week that some adults with intellectual disabilities in a local residential centre were physically and verbally assaulted, and in one case it was ongoing for a number of years.

According to a Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) report, inspectors found that a local Daughters of Charity service “failed to act in a timely manner” to ensure that its residents were protected from abuse, in two of its units.

On September 1, HIQA found on its first inspection of the two bungalows that there were 13 areas of non-compliance; 10 of which were “moderate”, while three were were “major”. There were five areas of compliance; two of which were “substantially compliant”.

In the report, inspectors found that the mix of residents in the centre was “unsuitable”, which was leading to physical and verbal peer-to-peer abuse, and that the issue in one unit was not resolved in a timely manner.

The report stated that the abuse was having a “negative impact” on other residents. For example, on occasions, residents would have to leave the communal area “for their own safety” and return to their bedrooms during these episodes.

Though there was frequent support from psychiatric and therapy services, a resident’s day service — which was provided on-campus — had been cancelled due to a “trigger to a behavioural episode”.

The activities that the resident enjoyed were cancelled on short notice, which was having a “significant impact” on the resident. The inspector found this to be “unacceptable” and that the consequences were also experienced by other residents.

Responding to the findings, a spokesperson for the centre stated that the mix of residents would be reviewed in conjunction with design and layout of the centre, to determine a resident’s suitability.

Two residents required “a more suitable living environment”, which was noted in one file in late February. However, the move did not happen due to a “lack of funding”.

The report found that bedrooms were “limited in size” for residents with mobility needs, and that staff described how beds had to be moved each time before assisting residents to change.

The report shows that Daughters of Charity were compliant in areas such as individualised supports and care, where staff demonstrated their understanding of residents’ communication needs.

The centre was “substantially compliant” in its effective services and safe services. The inspector noted that staff promoted residents’ dignity and helped maximise their independence.

The HIQA report also showed that residents were encouraged to dine with peers in the canteen, and that visits to friends in the wider community were also facilitated.

Daughters of Charity CEO Denis Cronin said that while they are “fully committed” to HIQA, there is “room for improvement”.

“In relation to this inspection there were three areas of major non-compliance and these principally related to size and configuration of the house and the mix of residents therein.

“Additional staff have been deployed to prevent undesirable interaction among some residents and we have engaged with the HSE in relation to developing alternative accommodation supports.”