HSE failed to deal with ‘sexual contact’ in home, report finds

Man involved in incidents of ‘sexual nature’ with another resident and staff member

A report published by the Mental Health Commission into Knockroe House found evidence of three instances of sexual contact between a man and woman in its care over a five-month period in 2014. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

A report published by the Mental Health Commission into Knockroe House found evidence of three instances of sexual contact between a man and woman in its care over a five-month period in 2014. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The HSE is to carry out a review of mental health services in Roscommon after it was found to have failed to take appropriate action on recorded instances of sexual contact between two residents in a Castlerea community service.

A report published by the Mental Health Commission into Knockroe House, a 14-bed community residence on the outskirts of Castlerea, found evidence of three instances of sexual contact between a man and woman in its care over a five-month period in 2014.

It also reported one incident “of a sexual nature” involving the same man and a woman staff member.

The inspection report published on Thusday said: “Inspection of the Incident Report books in Knockroe House identified three recorded instances of sexual contact between two vulnerable adult residents, one male, one female, over a five-month period in 2014 and one incident, also of a sexual nature, involving a female member of staff in 2015.”

Failed to assess

As regards the incidents of sexual contact between the two residents the Mental Health Commission reported that the HSE had failed to assess the two residents as to their capacity to engage in a sexual relationship or take other steps to ensure “neither resident is placed in a position where they may be exploited”.

It also said that, in the absence of such safeguarding measures, gardaí should have been informed.

The inspectors noted that, following the third recorded incident between the two residents in August 2014, management separated the two residents: one is accommodated in another community residence from Monday to Thursday, returning to Knockroe on weekends when the second resident is on home leave.

The inspectors said this was not an appropriate action as the other setting was “wholly inappropriate” for the resident who had been transferred.

In a subsequent inspection carried out in June inspectors recorded a further incident of a sexual nature involving the same male resident.

General secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, Des Kavanagh said the Mental Health Commission report vindicated the concerns raised by nursing staff in the Galway/Roscommon mental health services prior to the April inspection.

“The incidents raised were clearly very serious and the response of management was not appropriate,” he said.

The HSE announced it had determined it “necessary to conduct a review of the quality, safety and governance of services within the Roscommon area”.

It said the review had been “prompted in part by a number of specific incidents” which would also form part of the review which would examine management, staffing levels and compliance with relevant national and HSE frameworks.

The HSE said it was conducting a systems analysis review into the incidents in Knockroe House as well as having commissioned an external review of the mental health services in Roscommon.

“As both these processes are currently under way we are unable to comment further at this time. The HSE has reported these matters to the Gardaí and safeguards have been put in place to ensure patient safety,” a spokeswoman said.

Mr Kavanagh said he hoped the review would result in an improvement of services and the safeguarding of residents in the Roscommon area.