Disability centres must change ‘radically’, says Hiqa
One in seven disability homes failed to comply with standards, ‘Irish Times’ analysis finds
Cregg House: the facility for more than 100 adults with intellectual disabilities in Cregg, Rosses Point, Co Sligo, failed to comply with any Hiqa standards during five separate visits. Photograph: James Connolly/PicSell8
Disability service providers, including the HSE, must change “radically and quickly” if the “regressive and neglectful” conditions in certain disability homes are to be brought to an end, the State health watchdog has said.
Just 7 per cent of the inspections of disability homes published to date found full compliance with the required national standards.
Analysis by The Irish Times of more than 900 reports published since the Health Information and Quality Authority began inspecting disability homes found that homes failed to comply with any of the standards inspected in one in seven cases.
Some centres, including a unit in Cregg House in Sligo, which is run by the HSE and houses more than 100 adults with disabilities, failed to comply with any of the standards inspected by Hiqa during five separate visits between December 2014 and April 2015.
Despite multiple engagements with the centre, Hiqa inspectors highlighted a number of issues in a report on the unit in April. These included residents spending significant periods without engagement and continuing problems with staffing levels.
Hiqa chief executive Phelim Quinn said the inspections of disability homes, which began in late 2013, have “highlighted a culture whereby the human rights and aspirations of a significant number . . . of our citizens have been thwarted or denied over a period of years and in some instances, over decades”.
Some 20 disability homes face possible closure after Hiqa issued proposals to cancel or refuse their applications for registration.
This includes one unit of the HSE-run Áras Attracta care home in Swinford, Co Mayo. The service was the subject of a 2014 RTÉ documentary, which reported instances of slapping, kicking and force-feeding.
Mr Quinn called for better monitoring of care and progress towards community inclusion by providers of services, as well as better monitoring of services by the HSE as the funder of those services.
“Culture does not change overnight,” he said, “but service providers need to accept that regressive, neglectful care such as those highlighted cannot be tolerated.”
Never fit for purposePaddy Connolly of Inclusion Ireland said the reality is that some disability units will “never be fit for purpose”. He called on the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to commit resources to providing appropriate care arrangements for those who require them.
“There are certain centres which are passing these inspections with flying colours,” Mr Connolly said, “but that doesn’t necessarily equate to a decent quality of life.”
The HSE said it was “strongly committed” to addressing the issues raised by Hiqa. It funds services for some 8,000 people in residential support settings, at a cost of about €900 million a year.
“The HSE wishes to reassure families and residents of all services in this sector that we will continue to provide services for the residents in our care as the process of inspection and registration is ongoing,” a spokeswoman said.
She said new quality improvement teams would initially focus on 148 HSE residential centres. Given the age of some facilities, she added, “the type of change required to fully meet Hiqa requirements will require a sustained effort over a number of years”.