High-risk practices at psychiatric hospital in Kilkenny

Mental Health Commission finds issues in seven of 11 areas inspected at St Luke’s

St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny: despite the shortcomings staff demonstrated evidence of good practice in various areas and residents praised staff. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

High-risk practices were identified in the areas of medication management, privacy and consent to treatment during a recent inspection of psychiatric facilities at St Luke's Hospital Kilkenny.

The 44-bed hospital was found to be non-compliant in seven out of 11 areas inspected during an unannounced visit by Mental Health Commission officials in July.

Inspectors found that while the hospital had a clearly defined policy on privacy, there was “no documented evidence that staff had read and understood the policy”.

A number of privacy screening curtains had been missing for three weeks on one ward by the time of the visit, which was deemed to have “potentially compromised the privacy of the residents” there.


Despite a regular cleaning schedule, areas of the hospital were deemed to be dirty, and mould was observed in two bathrooms.

Seclusion area

It also found that a seclusion area used to separate residents during disruptive episodes was found to be “malodorous and required immediate intervention to remain suitable for purpose”. Once alerted, management pledged to address the issue imminently.

Elsewhere, a consent-to-treatment form did not have the correct name of the consultant psychiatrist who signed it printed on the form, and issues were raised with the management of medication at the facility.

Records of residents’ allergies or sensitivities to certain medications were not systematically recorded, and allergy sections on administration records were left blank in many instances.

The registration number of the practitioner who gave the prescriptions was missing from many medications.

Despite these shortcomings staff demonstrated evidence of good practice in the areas of bed management, fostering residents’ creativity and discharge processes, and residents who met inspectors praised staff and “commented favourably on the treatment” in the hospital.

The report was one of five published by the Mental Health Commission on Thursday.