Call for body to oversee disability homes and address ‘neglect’

Providers fail to meet requisite standard in 46% of cases inspected by Hiqa to date

A scene from the RTÉ documentary on the Áras Attracta care home in Swinford, Co Mayo

A scene from the RTÉ documentary on the Áras Attracta care home in Swinford, Co Mayo

 

An independent body should be established to provide oversight for residential disability services and address “decades of neglect” of people living in these settings, the head of Inclusion Ireland has said.

It comes after Irish Times analysis of more than 900 inspection reports in disability homes revealed one in seven failed to meet any standards during inspections the State’s health watchdog. Just 7 per cent of inspections found centres were fully compliant.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) assesses disability homes against up to 18 standards during each inspection, including residents’ rights, healthcare and welfare needs and staffing levels and governance.

To date the authority has inspected providers’ compliance with more than 11,500 standards.

‘Disturbing’

Providers failed to meet the relevant standard in almost half of cases (46 per cent). Of those one in five were major non-compliances.

HSE-run homes have a worse record than average: they failed to meet almost three-quarters of more than 800 standards tested by Hiqa. Almost one in three (28 per cent) were deemed major non-compliances.

Chief executive of Inclusion Ireland Paddy Connolly said it was “disturbing” that, more than 18 months after the first inspection was carried out, compliance rates in the sector remained so low.

He said between €50 million and €100 million in extra funding was required to immediately address issues facing the sector after Hiqa threatened to cancel or refuse applications for registration to 20 disability homes.

Mr Connolly called for the establishment of an independent group, to oversee this and future expenditure and to ensure providers were meeting appropriate standards.

He said the group, which he said should include representatives of the HSE, stakeholder departments and independent experts, also needed to follow the recommendations of a 2011 report which proposed a seven-year time frame for the closure of congregated settings.

Confined for hours

Since Hiqa began inspecting residential services for people with disabilities in November 2013, inspection reports have uncovered a litany of failures.

In one Co Louth home inspectors found evidence that residents remained in their chair with a lap strap for 12 hours, in a Tipperary home, residents’ weekend activities were sometimes limited to a walk around the centre’s internal courtyard.

In Áras Attracta, a care home in Swinford, Co Mayo which was the subject of an RTÉ programme aired last year, inspectors reported residents going without food for up to 15 hours overnight during a February 2014 inspection.