'Not fit for purpose': Limerick care unit for teens severely criticised by Hiqa

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

'Not fit for purpose': Limerick care unit for teens severely criticised by Hiqa

Coovagh House, Mulgrave Street, has been severely criticised by Hiqa inspectors

A CARE centre for troubled teenagers in Limerick city has been severely criticised by Hiqa inspectors.

The Coovagh House special care unit on the grounds of St Joseph’s Hospital on Mulgrave Street, was found to be non-compliant in 29 of 38 areas following an unannounced inspection by officers from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Inspectors said the living environment at the facility is “not fit for purpose” – and reported that children with behavioural disorders were not considered “safe” while living in the unit, which did not have a dedicated manager at the time of the probe.

Other parts of the unit were not in compliance with fire safety legislation, building an health and safety rules.

But one staff member, who works at the centre, believes the Hiqa inspectors have actually been “lenient” in their inspection.

“Some children had absconded from the unit and placed themselves at significant risk. While meetings were held to address these risks, decisions taken at these meetings were not always effective at reducing risk for some children who continued to abscond and report themselves at significant risk,” the damning report states.

The door on a child’s room at the facility, which holds four youngsters, was not replaced for six months.

“Consequently, their privacy and dignity could not be fully maintained as a result,” the report states, “Recreational equipment was minimal and not readily accessible in the unit.”

Staff, the inspectors said were “dedicated, skilled, experienced and had the competencies to provide care,” but they were not sufficiently supported with up-to-date training.

Medical records of the children in care at the centre were not kept up to date, while Hiqa inspectors have claimed that some contract cleaning staff in the facility had not been garda vetted.

Bosses at Coovagh House have now agreed to a series of measures to bring the controversial centre up to scratch.

In a statement, Tusla, which is responsible for its running said changes have already been made since the July inspection, including the recruitment of a permanent manager.

“Tusla is subject to consistent and high-quality regulation and oversight. This is crucial to ensure that our practices deliver good quality, timely and appropriate interventions and services for children,” the agency added.