Roscommon psychiatric patients had to keep clothes in plastic bags

Inspection reports criticise privacy arrangements in hospitals across the country

Patients at a psychiatric unit in Co Roscommon had to keep their clothes in plastic bags due to a lack of storage space. Stock photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Patients at a psychiatric unit in Co Roscommon had to keep their clothes in plastic bags due to a lack of storage space. Stock photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Patients at a psychiatric unit in Co Roscommon had to keep their clothes in plastic bags due to a lack of storage space, and had to use pens to jimmy open broken bedside lockers.

A report released today by the Mental Health Commission following an unannounced four-day visit to the unit in Roscommon University Hospital in November recorded a number of high-risk practices across various categories including premises, privacy and consent to treatment.

Of particular concern to inspectors were the insufficient arrangements for personal space and privacy for the 22 residents present on the inspection dates.

Locks on a number of toilets were observed to be broken and a single sheet of paper was used to obscure vision through a glass panel on the door of the high dependency unit.

The wardrobes available to residents were small and “wholly unsuitable for storing residents’ clothes”, and many used plastic bags scattered around their beds to store their belongings.

The handles on the wardrobes as well as bedside lockers were broken, meaning residents had to wedge a pen or key along the side to open drawers.

Representatives of the hospital responded that refurbishments are to be carried out to resident spaces over the coming months, subject to funding being made available in some cases.

Elsewhere, inspectors visiting the St Joseph’s Intellectual Disability Service in Portrane noted that 18 residents had the use of only two toilets between them in one particular ward, while peepholes into some bedroom doors were not obscured.

A CCTV monitor showing images from one of the facility’s seclusion rooms was easily observable from a corridor leading to the nursing office in which it was located, and there were gaps in the observation of some patients placed in seclusion.

The Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise came in for criticism for admitting child patients to its Department of Psychiatry.

Although provisions were in place to ensure the safety of children who were admitted, the Mental Health Commission still deemed the facility was not age-appropriate for minors.

Representatives of the hospital explained that children were only admitted on an emergency basis after all other viable avenues of treatment had been exhausted.

St Patrick’s University Hospital in Dublin was reprimanded for lax practices around the recording of administration of medicines, and adverse findings were also made against the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum following an unannounced visit in November.