Mental health inspectors critical of hygiene standards


BUDGETARY CUTS led to an unclean kitchen and toilets at a mental health facility in Limerick while a nurse at a Galway hospital was using electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) without any specific training, according to reports published yesterday by the Inspector of Mental Health Services.

Some 16 inspection reports on mental health units released identified problems ranging from outdated buildings, lack of staff and unacceptable restraint of patients.

Inspectors raised concerns about two centres in the north-east where there was only one member of staff on duty at night. There were 14 residents in The Moorings in Dundalk and 12 in the St Mary’s Residence in Drogheda with this level of staffing.

In St Joseph’s Hospital, Limerick, the kitchen was described as “grubby in appearance” with “ingrained grime and dried-up food residue” on surfaces and equipment.

The inspectorate was later assured the problem had been resolved.

Elsewhere inspectors raised concerns about the layout and infrastructure of many mental health facilities.

The layout of the admission unit at St Brigid’s Hospital, Ardee, was “totally unsuitable for the care of elderly patients with dementia”, the report said. The layout had resulted in an “increase in physical restraint of elderly residents which was not acceptable”, it said.

There were also concerns about infrastructure at St Davnet’s Hospital, Monaghan, which “belonged to a previous era of mental health and had no place in a modern mental health service”, with large dormitories and long corridors. However, it found the care of residents was of a high standard.

The inspection raised concerns over locked wards and locked doors on some bedrooms at the Sligo/Leitrim mental health in-patient unit at Ballytivnan.

It described the 1930s building as “outdated and institutional in appearance”. Capital funding had been made available for a new unit, but this was “unlikely to happen in the near future” as plans were still in design phase, the report said.

A lack of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) training was identified by inspectors at University College Hospital, Galway. ECT was used but the ECT nurse had “not been specifically trained in ECT”, the report said.