Kilkenny disability unit to close after court order

Court cancels registration of unit at St Patrick’s Centre after Hiqa queries

Kilkenny District Court has made an interim order cancelling the registration of Our Lady’s Unit at St Patrick’s Centre with effect from last Friday evening.

Kilkenny District Court has made an interim order cancelling the registration of Our Lady’s Unit at St Patrick’s Centre with effect from last Friday evening.

 

A residential unit for people with intellectual disabilities in Kilkenny has had its registration cancelled after concerns were raised by inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority.

Kilkenny District Court has made an interim order cancelling the registration of Our Lady’s Unit at St Patrick’s Centre with effect from last Friday evening.

The order was granted following an emergency application by Hiqa, whose inspectors raised concerns over the unit relating to fire safety and other issues.

This is the first time a centre has been re-registered since Hiqa began inspecting centres of people with intellectual disabilities over 18 months ago. Many of the residents have lived in the unit most of their lives.

Judge Colin Daly directed the HSE to take charge of the unit for the period of de-registration, which lasts 28 days.

The HSE, which funds the unit, will now have to make aleternative accommodation arrangements for the 28 residents.

Hiqa inspectors who visited the unit for the first time last Monday and Tuesday raised a number of concerns about fire safety, including the presence of locked exit doors, uneven surfaces and the lack of fire alarms. A number of other serious issues were raised relating to the handling of personal belonging of resident, the management of challenging behaviour, unexplained injuries and under-staffing.

Judge Daly made the interim order with the consent of the operators of the unit on Friday, pursuant to Part 8 of the Health Act 2007. The HSE was directed to take charge of the unit from 7pm on that day in accordance with Section 64 of the Act. The matter is returnable to the court for a final determination with 28 days.

The unit is one of five on the campus in Kilkenny. Other units are unaffected by the court order.

The HSE said its priorities were to ensure the immediate safety of the residents and assess their needs. It promised to work towards providing safe care for the residents in cooperation with their families.

“Immediate steps, at a cost of €100,000, have already been taken to address fire safety risks and other measures and works have commenced today to ensure all identified actions will be implemented immediately.”

Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said she was extremely concerned about the issues highlighted by Hiqa. She said it is of paramount importance that vulnerable residents were safe and protected in what is their own home.

Ms Lynch said the HSE was in close contact with Hiqa to discuss how best to ensure the welfare and safety of the residents.