Call for isolation guidelines


HEALTH AUTHORITIES have been told to urgently draw-up guidelines over the isolation of children in special care units after social services found a teenager who was confined to a locked section of a care home for vulnerable teenagers.

In an inspection of Ballydowd special care unit last June, inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) were told that a young person had being kept apart from other teenagers for the previous two months due to challenging behaviour.

This latest report follows a previous Hiqa inspection of Ballydowd last March, in which inspectors expressed alarm that the Health Service Executive had left another vulnerable child separated “almost continually” for six months.

The HSE defended the move at the time, insisting that official guidelines for the care of the child – who had “complex behaviour” – were being followed.

The most recent inspection report, published earlier this week, states that another child was residing in a secure section of the unit with access to a bedroom with en-suite facilities and a small sitting room with two staff members.

The young person was being educated alone, although the report states staff were making efforts to integrate the child regularly with other children in the unit, based on risk assessments.

Managers, staff and professionals told inspectors that the arrangement was based on a recent forensic psychology assessment. They said the child was cared for in a “single occupancy” arrangement, rather than “single separation”.

The latter form of care – covered by national guidelines – is used to isolate seriously disruptive young people for as short a period of time as possible. Guidelines state that it is an extreme step which should only be used as measure of last resort.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.