Twelve staff at Stewarts disability care facility suspended pending inquiry

Stewarts says it is working with Hiqa to address issues raised over Palmerstown centre

 Paddy Connolly: chief executive of Inclusion Ireland says the allegations have raised disturbing questions.   Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Paddy Connolly: chief executive of Inclusion Ireland says the allegations have raised disturbing questions. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 01:00


A total of 12 staff members have now been suspended at a care facility for people with intellectual disabilities pending an investigation into allegations over the standard of care provided to vulnerable residents.

The Irish Times reported yesterday that students who were on placement at Stewarts, a disability service provider, have made a series of allegations of neglectful or abusive practices in relation to the way clients were treated by staff members.

Stewarts confirmed it was working with the Health Information and Quality Authority address the issues raised. It said it has also been in contact with the family members of any individuals at the centre of allegations. The organisation has sought the assistance of an external investigation team to examine the allegations.

This will be chaired by Jim Halley, an independent mediator and investigator. He is the founder of Halley and Associates, which was recently renamed as 2Collaborate.

Informed sources say the abusive incidents alleged to have occurred include shower doors not being closed while individuals were being showered, clients being locked out of their bungalows and individuals being spoken of as if they were not present.

Paddy Connolly, chief executive of Inclusion Ireland – the umbrella group for people with intellectual disabilities – said the allegations and number of staff suspended raised disturbing questions.

He also said he had been in contact with family members of clients at the centre who were alarmed and expressed unease at the lack of information regarding the alleged incidents.

Stewarts, which developed out of Stewarts Hospital in Palmerstown, Dublin, provides extensive onsite and community-based services for clients. The organisation supports more than 300 residents and provides day services for some 600 clients, both adults and children.

It is understood concerns were raised by a number of students from Trinity College Dublin who had been on placement in its intellectual disability services. They claimed that some of the situations they witnessed could constitute abuse.

The allegations come as residential centres for more than 9,000 adults and children with disabilities are being subjected to independent inspections for the first time.