HSE ordered to move 30 residents with disabilities from centre

Concerns over safety and welfare at Victorian-era residential home St Raphael’s in Cork

The HSE has been ordered to move 30 residents with intellectual disabilities out of a Victorian-era residential centre in Co Cork following concerns over their safety and well-being.

In a District Court case last month, which has just come to light, Judge Terence Finn prohibited new admissions to St Raphael's residential centre in Youghal, Co Cork.

The judge also gave health authorities 10 months to relocate 30 existing residents to more appropriate community-based accommodation.

Inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) raised concerns over the safety of residents, their poor quality of life and poor oversight in a series of nine inspections this year.


The first inspection was prompted by a notification from the HSE last March of an allegation that a staff member had abused a resident.

Inspectors said residents were woken in their dormitory-style accommodation at 7.15am in the morning to suit staff routines.

There is also evidence of frequent physical violence between residents, with one staff member recalling them “hitting and kicking each other”.

Unprecedented step

On November 6th, Hiqa took the unprecedented step of applying to the District Court to place restrictive conditions on the registration of three centres for people with disabilities at St Raphael’s campus.

These included St Raphael’s Residential Centre, and Oakvale and Youghal community hostels.

Another residential unit on the campus, Youghal Community Houses, was not affected by the action.

Prior to this inspection, the HSE had been ordered over the course of a number of inspections to undertake immediate actions to improve the quality of life and safety of residents.

While inspectors found there had been progress in many areas, there continued to be significant concerns over governance and management in the centres and the impact that this had on the safety of residents.

For instance, the HSE told Hiqa it had taken steps to manage risks around vulnerable individuals and to help tackle the number of assaults between residents through one-to-one staffing supports.

Yet, inspectors found that these measures were being suspended at specific times during the day to facilitate staff breaks and medication rounds.

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