Staff at disability facility to have suspensions lifeted but are moved to adminstrative duties
Investigators at Stewartscare say there is prime facie case to continue with investigations
Stewarts Hospital in Palmerstown, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
About a dozen staff at a care facility for people with intellectual disabilities, who were suspended earlier this month, are to be reinstated, but moved to administrative duties pending further investigations into complaints about standards of care.
The Irish Times reported a fortnight ago that a number of students who had been on placement at Stewartscare, a disability service provider in the eastern region, had made a series of allegations of neglectful or abusive practices in relation to the way clients were treated by staff members.
About 12 staff members were subsequently suspended and an external investigation team – chaired by independent mediator and investigator Jim Halley – was brought in.
A spokesman for Stewartscare yesterday said that the independent investigators had found, in an interim report, that there was a prima facie case to continue with their inquiries. He said investigators had also found that the suspensions had been an inappropriate response to the complaints made and should be lifted.
The spokesman added that arrangements for managing student nurses on placement at the facility had been inappropriate and that these should be revised between Stewarts and Trinity College Dublin.
He said that the staff concerned had been told that their suspensions were being lifted, but they were to be redeployed to administrative duties.
Informed sources have maintained that 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.
Stewarts, which was 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 Trinity students who had been on placement in its intellectual disability services. They claimed that some of the situations they witnessed could constitute abuse.