HSE disability unit told to transfer patients

Hiqa audit detailed unexplained bruising and lack of trained staff at St Peter’s care unit

A HSE-run care unit for people with disabilities was told to cease admissions and transfer residents that it was unable to care for following a highly critical inspection report.

Inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) conducted an unannounced inspection of St Peter's Services in Castlepollard, Co Westmeath last December following concerns over the safety and welfare of residents.

Its report highlights a range of concerns including unexplained bruising on some residents, a lack of trained staff and poor access to meaningful activities.

Residents were also forced to use commodes on a daily basis because the toilets were unsuitable.


State of disrepair

One of the two community houses which inspectors visited was found to be in a state of disrepair and was unsuitable to meet the needs of residents.

In all there were 36 breaches of care regulations identified during the inspection.

Among the other concerns highlighted were:

* Governance and management systems in the designated centre were “weak and ineffective”.

* There was no formal induction plan in place for staff and they did not have relevant knowledge to support the residents.

* Some residents had unexplained bruising; while the injuries were documented, there was no evidence that procedures for protecting vulnerable adults from abuse were followed.

* Staff members had not received training to administer medication required for some residents.

* There was an absence of appropriate supports for residents with challenging behaviour.

* There was poor access to the local community as a result of understaffing at the centre.

* There was also no staff supervision in place or assessment of competency of staff. * Toilet facilities were too narrow and staff used en-suite toilets for themselves; this impacted negatively on the dignity of residents.

In a statement, the HSE said a working group was tackling all the actions that needed to be addressed following the inspection.

Governance structures

It said the governance structures had been strengthened and an investigation has also been carried out into the reported incidents of unexplained bruising.

The executive said Hiqa’s findings were unacceptable, and it would continue to work with the authority to improve safety and quality of services.

This latest inspection report followed another inspection of St Peter’s a month previously, which also highlighted concerns over the care and welfare of residents.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent