Disabled Waterford residents told to stay in bed in the event of fire

Concerns also raised about centre with 668 verbal abuse incidents in 9 months

Some door frames had suffered damage that would render them ineffective in the event of a fire, and that others did not close fully. Photograph: iStock

Some door frames had suffered damage that would render them ineffective in the event of a fire, and that others did not close fully. Photograph: iStock

 

Residents at a disability centre in Waterford were told to stay in rooms with damaged fire doors and wait for emergency services to arrive if a blaze broke out, an inspection report has found.

The instruction was questioned by officials from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) during an unannounced visit to the five-person Bailin centre in February.

Three individual evacuation plans for residents who required additional supports for mobility noted that they should “remain in bed if there was a fire at night” and that staff would ensure the bedroom door was closed and would then wait for the assistance of the fire service.

A letter from a fire consultant employed by the care provider, Waterford Intellectual Disability Association, and seen by inspectors said residents could safely remain in their rooms for up to 30 minutes following the outbreak of a fire if all required maintenance procedures for fire doors were kept up to date.

However, it was found that some door frames had suffered “significant damage”, which would render them ineffective in the event of a fire, and that others did not close fully.

In addition the letter from the consultant indicated that all residents should be evacuated “when safe to do so”, or to otherwise await the assistance of the fire service.

It was noted that this provision was not included in evacuation plans, and staff accordingly said they would not attempt to evacuate these residents themselves if a fire broke out.

Waterford Intellectual Disability Association gave an assurance to Hiqa that new fire doors would be ordered and fitted in the facility within two weeks of the inspection date.

Wicklow abuse

A separate Hiqa visit to a HSE-run disability centre in Wicklow noted that there had been almost 700 incidents of “self-injurious behaviour and peer-to-peer verbal abuse” over a nine-month period in 2016.

Inspectors who called to the Sunbeam House centre in January noted that residents “were subjected to name-calling and offensive language frequently during the inspection”, and that measures to address the trend had not been effective in reducing regular episodes of aggression and insults.

It was added that the provider, the HSE, had “failed to take effective action to keep residents safe.”

Meanwhile, such was the level of noncompliance found during inspections carried out at disability facilities run by the HSE across the northwest region that Hiqa wrote directly to the organisation’s national director asking for ongoing concerns to be addressed.

The HSE was directed to submit a plan to rectify the litany of deficiencies identified in services across the area, the details of which are to be implemented by June 13th.

Poor practice was evident at HSE centres elsewhere, such as the Cluain Fhionnain disability service in Kerry, where inspectors noted that residents “were not protected at all times from all forms of harm and abuse”.

In Dublin’s Cherry Orchard Hospital, a document that required staff to note a certain resident’s character traits observed that he was “good at smoking”.