HSE takes over Kilkenny care home due to abuse fears

Practices ‘that could be considered abusive’ found in Camphill community in Ballytobin

Camphill Ballytobin has been taken over by the HSE with a view to finding another care provider.

Camphill Ballytobin has been taken over by the HSE with a view to finding another care provider.


The registration of a Co Kilkenny care home for 19 people with physical and intellectual disabilities has been cancelled because of fears over abuse.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) took the actions against Camphill Communities of Ireland in Ballytobin due to “ongoing and significant failings to ensure residents were adequately safeguarded from the risk of abuse”.

The centre’s registration was cancelled on Tuesday and it has been taken over by the HSE with a view to finding another care provider.

Hiqa first warned Camphill in April 2016 that its safeguards to protect residents against abuse were inadequate. Subsequently it found improvements in safeguarding arrangements in most of its care homes, but not in Ballytobin.

In October 2016, Hiqa found incidents in Ballytobin of “intimate care and physical restraint practices in the centre that could be considered abusive”.

One practice at the centre was described as “sexual abuse”. When brought to the attention of a person in charge, that person issued an instruction that this practice was to cease immediately.

“However, the person in charge was unable to provide assurances that the direction had been followed,” the inspector found. “She stated that there continued to be resistance to safeguarding measures among some staff.”

In its report, Hiqa said a person who was alleged to have assaulted one of the residents continued to have access to Ballytobin.

Another inspection found a resident had been woken at 5am in participate in a festival and was very distressed and began crying and shouting for the duration of the event. When staff were questioned, they said it was important for the person to participate in the Camphill tradition.

Inspectors saw examples of where residents were removed to a small room when they presented with behavioural issues and in one case to a garden shed.

Staff were unable to explain how a resident had unexplained bruising to the head.


Friends and family of those involved have described the report as “truly shocking”.

Tony McCann, who has a child in another Camphill community, said he feared the actions of some in Ballytobin “have served to undermine the extraordinary good that Camphill communities do all over Ireland”.

In a statement on behalf of the families of residents of Camphill communities, he added: “These actions have served to dismantle the home and community of people with support needs. It has been a challenge for communities to adjust to an environment of rules and regulations.

“However, the majority of the communities of our loved ones have met that challenge and have already secured Hiqa registration while continuing to provide the life-enhancing, joyful, loving environments for which Camphill is known throughout the world.”

Camphill has 18 communities in Ireland looking after 500 people with various levels of disability. It was founded in Scotland in 1939 and has communities in more than 20 countries.