How poor are the standards in Ireland’s disability homes?

Inspections by Hiqa reveal ‘model of care outdated in many other states since the 1980s’

Hiqa chief executive Phelim Quinn: says certain services needed to change “radically and quickly”. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Hiqa chief executive Phelim Quinn: says certain services needed to change “radically and quickly”. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

Since late 2013, the State’s health watchdog’s inspections of disability homes have uncovered, in the words of its chief executive, some “regressive, neglectful” practices .

“What we are seeing from some of our inspections is the legacy of what was deemed an appropriate response in care and support in the middle of the 20th century – a model of care that was deemed to be outdated in many other states since the 1980s,” said Phelim Quinn, chief executive of the Health Information and Quality Authority.

This week The Irish Times published an analysis of more than 900 inspection reports that revealed centres were found to be fully compliant in less than 7 per cent of cases.

One in seven inspections found the disability centre/unit failed to meet any standards monitored during inspections by the watchdog.

HSE-run homes were found to have a worse-than- average record: not one inspection in any of the 75 HSE-run centres/units inspected was fully compliant with all the standards, while more than a third of inspected HSE-run homes did not comply with any of the standards examined.

Hiqa assesses disability homes against as many as 18 standards during each inspection, covering areas such as health and safety, staffing, medication management and governance.

To date HSE-run homes have been tested on 820 standards but failed to meet almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of them.

Hiqa said that, because part of its brief was to follow up on reports of incidents at centres, it was more likely to have visited centres providing poorer services.

Mr Quinn also noted “evidence of good practices and services where residents live and are treated as citizens experiencing the same rights as others”. But, with almost 80 per cent of homes inspected, certain services needed to change “radically and quickly”.

Mr Quinn said providers in receipt of millions of euro needed to better monitor their level of care and called for better monitoring of services by the HSE.

In its response to The Irish Times findings, the HSE said it was “strongly committed” to addressing the issues raised by Hiqa.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said quality improvement teams had been established, which would visit 148 centres initially.

However, she said, given the age of some, “the type of change required to fully meet Hiqa requirements will require a sustained effort over a number of years”.

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