Health and safety breaches found in four disability centres

Hiqa finds women forced to leave bungalow to access bathroom in Gweedore facility

The reports on three health centres in Co Donegal and one in Sligo town were among 20 reports published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) on Monday

Deficiencies in staff training, breaches of fire safety requirements, failures in medication management and failures in protecting patients from potential abuse, have been found in four HSE-run centres for people with a disability in the northwest.

The reports on three health centres in Co Donegal and one in Sligo town were among 20 reports published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) on Monday.

Of the 20 reports, 14 disability centres across the State were found to be “generally” in compliance with regulations. But of the remaining six centres which were all run by the HSE, “four were found to lack effective governance, adequate oversight and management” , Hiqa said.

Hiqa said “a high level of non-compliance relating to residents’ health, safety and welfare was identified in these [four] centres”.


An inspection of Dunwiley and Cloghan Centre in Co Donegal revealed “significant risks” relating to the safety and welfare of residents. The inspector’s report said services were in four separated locations in Dunwiley and Cloghan. The inspectors found residents’ personal plans and goals had not been reviewed annually. A fault was identified in the operation of the fire alarm.

In one of the bungalows in which patients lived there were no fire doors and the inspector was not convinced that residents could be safely evacuated at all times of the day. The inspector also found “safeguarding” plans “were not robust in content and did not assure that residents would be protected from possible abuse”.

The inspector said medication management at Dunwiley and Cloghan was in line with medication policy. But the report said “although the inspector found that staff were caring and support was given in a timely manner to residents, staffing inconsistencies.... were still present at the centre”.

An inspection of the Gweedore Services located in Sligo town found women with intellectual disabilities had to leave their bungalow to access a suitable bathroom in a separate house on their campus. Hiqa said there were “significant levels of non-compliance in the centre which consisted of seven houses with a maximum capacity for 32 people.

Staff had made “insufficient changes” to improve patients’ lives since the last inspection, the inspector said. The failings included a “lack of a meaningful day for residents”. Other deficiencies included a lack of staff training to ensure “safeguarding” and the premises was deemed to be not fit for purpose.The fire evacuation plans advised staff that they could rely on help from staff in another centre for support in the event of a fire. But the inspector found this imposed a risk in the second centre.

An inspection of the Dungloe Services in Co Donegal found deficiencies in fire safety services, which the inspector said “needed improvement”.

The inspector said a policy of calling on staff in another house in the event of a fire was not sufficient. This was considered “major” non-compliance, the report said.

An inspection of Dungloe Services Number 2, also in Co Donegal, also found fire safety deficiencies.

In this case, it was reported there was a lack of clarity in relation to fire drills and no night time rehearsals had taken place, leading to uncertainty in relation to the procedure.

Since these inspections, Hiqa has required the HSE to implement action plans to improvement conditions for the residents.

Hiqa will continue to monitor centres in the northwest closely as part of this process.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist