Disabled residents at Co Donegal care home found to have restricted rights

Report positive about staff interaction with residents ‘seen to be warm at all times’

A report published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa)  criticised the institutional setting of the home. Photograph: iStock

A report published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) criticised the institutional setting of the home. Photograph: iStock

 

Disabled residents at a Co Donegal care home were found to have restricted rights to their own property and control of their finances following two inspections earlier this year.

A report published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) also criticised the institutional setting of the home which lacked privacy and which used buckets to collect rainwater in the dining room.

The James Connolly Memorial Residential Unit was visited by inspectors in June and August 2019, and several areas of concern were identified.

“Residents’ rights to their own property was restricted. Residents had inadequate control over their finances and were only permitted to keep €25 in their individual wallets or purses,” one of the reports noted.

If residents needed more money to buy something they had to put in a request to management explaining why they needed to access their own money.

In response, management said all the residents required assistance to manage their personal finances and have HSE-held accounts. It said financial practices were reviewed and each resident now had access to €50 for daily expenditure.

The unit is described as a congregated, or institutional, setting for 16 adults with disabilities. It has two large dormitories - one sleeping five women, the other four men - as well as three single and two double occupancy bedrooms.

“The centre was institutional in design and was not an appropriate environment for people with disabilities to live in. Residents’ right to privacy and dignity was compromised as a result of this,” the report noted, adding it did not provide a home-like environment.

Parts of the premises were found in a state disrepair, including the dining room ceiling which leaked in bad weather.

“Staff were required to collect rainwater in buckets so as to ensure the dining room floor did not flood,” it said.

“Thermostats on some radiators were not operational and the heat coming from them could not be regulated. In order to mitigate the risk of burns to residents, staff were required to turn these radiators on and off with a pair of pliers.”

The inspectors were generally positive about staff interaction with residents which were “seen to be warm at all times”.

“Residents were observed to be relaxed and comfortable in the presence of staff members and staff were seen to be attentive to their needs,” the report said.

“Residents were seen to smile when staff interacted with them and the inspectors saw that they enjoyed sensory activities and relaxation therapies such as foot and facial massage.”

A review of a number of personal resident plans showed community-based outings were “significantly restricted”.

“One resident who particularly liked swimming had not been supported to go in the last two years,” it said, even though facilities were available.

However, the second inspection reviewed a small sample of residents’ files which showed social outings to local shops, bowling centres, beaches and meals out were being facilitated, although it was a “work in progress”.

Some “gaps” were noted in staff training including the management of challenging behaviour. The second inspection found some improvement but continued non-compliance in the areas of governance, risk management, resourcing, staffing and social care.

The inspections were among 27 reports on residential centres for people with disabilities published by Hiqa on Tuesday.