Health inspectors withdraw proposal to close Áras Attracta

But Hiqa warns of continued shortfalls at care facility for adults

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has withdrawn its proposal to cancel the registration of the Áras Attracta care facility following an inspection at the Co Mayo centre in January.

Hiqa announced on Thursday that it was inviting the HSE to apply to register the centres, which provide care for adults with intellectual disabilities, even though it still raised concerns around the long-term sustainability of improvements at the facility. The authority gave the HSE a final warning late last year to improve conditions at the facility or face closure.

While Hiqa did report improvements in care and facilities at Áras Attracta following its latest inspection of the three centres, the authority warned of insufficient staff training and a failure to provide Garda vetting documents. It called for increased opportunities for residents to participate in education, more accessible personal plans for residents and further improvements in the oversight of quality and safety standards.

At Áras Attracta’s first centre, inspectors still found shortfalls in personal planning arrangements, fire safety and end-of-life care. The installation of fire doors in the centre had only been “partially completed” and some residents in Centre 1 continued to share three-bedded bedrooms. Residents in one part of the centre did not have access to kitchen facilities.


It reported that a letter of apology had been issued to all residents after money was taken from their personal accounts to pay for computer tablets - an action taken without assessing residents’ need for this technology. A refund was provided to residents and an assessment process is now in place.

Hiqa noted that all emergency escape routes from the second centre at the facility were clear, fire drills were being regularly carried out, fire evacuation plans were up to date, all staff had received fire safety training and regular reviews of the panic alarm system were being carried out.

However, inspectors found that the local risk register needed to be updated to accurately reflect the risk of falls at the centre. While the management of falls at the centre had improved, there were “gaps in learning and actions taken in order to reduce or prevent the risk of further falls”.

Hiqa also reported a “major” non-compliance in the area of staff records and training and found not all staff had been trained in the administration of emergency epilepsy medication and supporting residents with feeding, eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. The centre continued to use temporary workers due to staffing vacancies and was unable to provide copies of Garda vetting disclosures during the inspection.

The health authority commended the centre for considerably improving the overall quality of service including the provision of weekly “voices and choices” meetings which allowed residents to play a role in writing up weekly menus, social activities and the décor of bungalows.

The third centre at the Áras Attracta also failed to provide Garda Síochána vetting documents for staff, as well as evidence of the six-monthly unannounced visits to the centre and of staff training in dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). The centre had improved its social model of care which included involving residents in planning aspects of their day-to-day lives such as grocery shopping and meal preparation. Residents also had the option of doing their own laundry and picking out their own bed coverings.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast