Hiqa reports disability centre in Dublin over suspected neglect of residents

SJOG said facility has since been fully upgraded and refurbished

Inspectors from the State’s healthcare watchdog have reported a residential centre for people with disabilities in southwest Dublin to the national safeguarding office over suspected neglect of residents due to the conditions in the centre.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) said conditions in the home run by St John of God Community Services (SJOG) were so concerning it could constitute a form of institutional abuse.

The centre, Liffey Six in Clondalkin, Dublin 22, accommodated nine residents between two houses, and Hiqa was highly critical of conditions in one of the homes.

In an inspection report, published on Wednesday, Hiqa said there had been mould growing in several areas of the home, with mould spots found on one resident’s pillow and bedding.


There had also been issues with a lack of hot water and heating in the home ongoing for a year, inspectors found.

The July 7th 2020 inspection concluded the house had “a very poor living environment and was not fit for accommodating residents”.

Conditions in the home had deteriorated since a previous inspection of the centre, the report said. In a January 2019 inspection, Hiqa had identified mould in one bedroom. During the recent inspection mould was found in “multiple areas throughout the centre”.

There was a “substantial” amount of mould on the walls and ceilings of a hallway and other areas, and on the ceiling of a bathroom. Mould was found in one of the bedrooms, with mould spots on one of the resident’s pillow and bedding.

There was a lack of hot running water in residents’ bathrooms, which had been a problem in the facility since November 2019.

Due to the lack of hot water two residents had been sharing another resident’s en suite shower for a number of months. Hiqa said the provider could not supply evidence that this practice had stopped following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

These issues had significantly impacted on the infection-control measures in the centre, which Hiqa said was “particularly concerning” due to the risk of Covid-19.

There were also serious issues with the heating in the home, first reported as far back as November 2019.

The Hiqa report said although temporary arrangements had been put in place, they had not been effective. In one case the lack of heating had required one resident to wear multiple layers of clothes in bed for several months during the winter.

Hiqa inspectors also found broken blinds in three rooms, exposed fixtures with loose wires, clear rust on the pipes in one bathroom, and a toilet seat missing.

“Inspectors found that the provider was failing to provide residents with a safe and comfortable home, and that failure may constitute neglect. On that basis, immediately following the inspection, inspectors made a referral to the national safeguarding office”.

The inspectors said the neglect may be a form of “institutional abuse,” according to the report.

One Hiqa source said reporting a facility to the Health Service Executive’s safeguarding office was a rare step for the regulator.

Hiqa said it was not satisfied there was effective oversight of the centre, and plans to improve conditions by SJOG had not been implemented.

“Inspectors saw evidence from previous inspection reports and from the provider’s own audits that the provider was aware that the premises was in a poor state of repair and that it did not meet the needs of residents,” the report said.

In a statement, a spokesman for SJOG said it accepted Hiqa’s findings, and the “facility in question has since been fully upgraded and refurbished.”

In a follow-up inspection in August the regulator had “expressed satisfaction that the centre was now adequately resourced to safely meet the needs of residents”.

SJOG “accepts that this situation fell below the acceptable standard of care that would be expected of it and wishes to apologise to the residents of this facility and their families.”

Saint John of God Community Services is funded by the HSE to provide services to approximately 8,000 children and adults on behalf of the State. The charity is one of the biggest providers of intellectual disability services in the country.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times