Mistreatment in care home raises issues for HSE

Shocking scenes in centre for adults with intellectual disabilities to air on RTÉ

Shocking scenes of mistreatment of residents at a Co Mayo centre for adults with intellectual disabilities feature in an undercover documentary to be broadcast on RTÉ television on Tuesday night.

The documentary, about Áras Attracta in Swinford, Co Mayo, shows scenes of vulnerable female residents being force-fed, slapped, roughly handled, abused and compelled to stay in a chair for hours on end. Nine staff at the home have been suspended as a result of the conduct, secretly filmed by an undercover journalist for the RTÉ Investigations Unit last month, as The Irish Times reported last week.

The programme, Inside Bungalow 3, raises serious questions for the Health Service Executive, which runs the facility, and the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), which is responsible for monitoring standards. Last February, a Hiqa report detailed serious shortcomings in care standards at Áras Attracta but it subsequently found significant improvements.

Heavy-handed behaviour


In the single most shocking incident, Mary Maloney (75), who cannot speak and has a severe intellectual disability, is force-fed in a chair by a care assistant. The staff member pulls her back in the chair by her hood and pins Ms Maloney's arm down using her knee while shoving a beaker into her mouth. When Ms Maloney tries to remove the beaker, the care assistant pins her arm behind the chair.

In later footage, Ms Maloney is shown fully capable of feeding herself.

The footage also shows Ivy McGinty (53), who is also unable to speak and has severe autism, being pinched, prodded, poked and kicked by staff, seemingly for no reason. She is frequently ordered to sit in a chair, face the wall and keep her head down.

Keys are rattled in her face because it is known she does not like this and on one occasion a staff member comes in and sits on her as a joke, though this too causes her distress.

Mary Garvan (65) is left in front of the television all day, having been pulled into her chair by her trousers. Staff handle her roughly, throw a sheet over her head at one point and threaten to put her out on the cold porch when she tries to get out of her chair.

During many of these incidents other staff members attend to mobile phones or do paperwork without intervening.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times