Cut back in transport at home for people with intellectual disabilities, Hiqa finds

Cut had direct effect on ability of residents at Louth centre to attend community facilities

A rural care home for people with intellectual disabilities was found to have cut its residents' access to transport vehicles in half despite having been told to improve it.

A Health and Information Quality Authority (Hiqa) report on conditions at the Chestnut Heights home in Co Louth found the curtailment had a direct effect on its 16 residents' ability to attend community facilities.

Staff also informed inspectors that access to wheelchair taxis was limited and that residents “incurred a significant cost” for their use.

While the need for improved transport access had been raised at a previous inspection - the centre is in a rural location - Hiqa noted it was “even more limited at the time of this inspection”.


“For example, the number of vehicles available to residents had reduced from two to one.”

The Chestnut Heights report - which followed an unannounced visit last September and found non-compliance with three regulations - was one of 24 published by the Authority on Thursday regarding centres for people with disabilities.

‘Privacy and dignity’

A report on the Clew Bay facility in Dublin from last November, run by St Michael’s House, found issues with eight separate regulations.

In one instance, inspectors reported on one resident who was engaged in activities “which may make them vulnerable” and noted, a potential for their legal rights to be affected.

“This was also leading to the residents’ privacy and dignity not being respected in relation to the sharing of their personal information,” the report noted, but did not specify in what way such information was being shared.

Clew Bay is a community home for eight adults with intellectual disabilities. It was its third inspection in 2018 and overall Hiqa believed the person in charge was not “adequately monitoring” the quality and safety of the service.

Following this latest inspection, the service provider was issued a formal warning letter over non-compliance with regulations and a failure to demonstrate any reasonable improvement.

“A social worker had attended the latest staff meeting in relation to safeguarding procedures and how staff should escalate concerns,” the report noted. “However, on reviewing the minutes of these meetings the inspectors found a number of items discussed which did not respect residents’ rights to privacy or choice.”

Overall it was observed that staff were “striving to ensure that residents lived in a caring environment” but that improvements were nevertheless required.

The St Luke’s and St Matthew’s facility operated by St John of God Community Service in Co Louth was visited last September and found to fall short of four regulatory standards.

Caring for nine residents, it found the premises to be “institutional” in layout and design and not fit for purpose.

Residents appeared “relaxed and at ease” in the company of staff and inspectors were told that plans to close the existing centre and transition residents to new community homes were still in place but would be delayed.

“The care and support being provided to one resident was in breach of a number of regulations which related to restrictive practices, positive behaviour support, risk management processes and timely access to allied health care professionals,” it said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times