Children’s unit to close following damning inspection report

Inspectors find evidence of bullying, self-harm and fire safety risks

Inspectors have expressed serious concern over the welfare and safety of a group of young people in a high support unit for troubled children run by the Health Service Executive

Inspectors have expressed serious concern over the welfare and safety of a group of young people in a high support unit for troubled children run by the Health Service Executive

Tue, Oct 8, 2013, 11:45

Inspectors have expressed serious concern over the welfare and safety of a group of young people in a high support unit for troubled children run by the Health Service Executive.

In a damning report published today, the Health Information and Quality Authority found evidence of bullying, self-harming and assaults at Rath na nÓg High Support Unit, Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan.

Inspectors found that children’s behaviour and safety actually deteriorated during their placement and managers at national and local level had failed to respond sufficiently to these risks.

In addition, the authority found that residents were being locked in their rooms overnight, despite several outbreaks of fire-setting at the unit.

The facility provides accommodation for four troubled teenagers, aged between 12 and 17, who have been placed in the State’s care system.

Despite the risks facing teenagers at the unit, the authority’s inspectors said the HSE had not sufficiently addressed quality and safety concerns.

Among its finding were that:

* There was an immediate risk to the safety of children and young people due to a significant non-compliance with fire safety standards

* Doors were locked to prevent young people leaving the building at night but this did not reduce the number of unauthorised absences

* Staff were not able to keep children safe. Self harm and bullying were not actively managed and in some instances, children and young people had harmed themselves or each other

In response to the report, the HSE announced today there are plans to close residential services for children at Rath na nÓg by the end of November 2013.

The closure of the unit, it said, was in line with the services national policy to decommission high support units and increase the services capacity of Special Care Services.