Residents in centre for the disabled ‘at risk from each other’

Latest inspection reports from health watchdog highlights several shortcomings

Phelim Quinn, chief executive of the Health Information and Quality Authority. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Phelim Quinn, chief executive of the Health Information and Quality Authority. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons


The placing of a number of disabled residents together in a care facility in Co Limerick meant they were vulnerable to physical harm and threats to their psychological well-being from each other, the State’s health watchdog has found.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published 28 inspection reports on designated centres for people with disabilities on Tuesday.

Inspectors found a good level of compliance with the regulations and standards in 22 inspections.

However, an unannounced inspection on March 14th, 2019, at the Desmond Community Residential Houses in Limerick, which is operated by the Brothers of Charity Services Ireland, found a number of shortcomings.

A maximum of nine residents can be accommodated at the facility, with four residents in one house and five in the other. While inspectors observed “many indicators of good governance”, they were critical of the placing of residents together in one of the houses.

“When behaviours presented, they impacted on the other residents and were also at times specifically directed at a fellow resident,” they said. “The consequence was harm and upset on an individualised basis.”

There was also “more generalised disruption to the house and residents that resulted in poor sleep patterns, disrupted sleep and early morning waking and general poor presentation and heightened anxiety the following day”, the inspectors noted.

’Not always adequately protected’

“Missing from the provider’s management of this house and the support provided to each resident was the cyclical nature of the behaviours; that is how the behaviour of one resident was the trigger for the behaviour of another.

“As a result, this house could not be described as consistently safe for any of the three residents living there.

“Therefore, notwithstanding the uniqueness of each resident and their needs, residents individually and collectively were not always adequately protected from harm by a peer.”

The inspectors pointed out there was “no immediate risk” to residents at the time of inspection, and that there were “some effective systems in place”.

However, residents “lived in an environment and in circumstances that made all residents vulnerable to both causing harm and experiencing harm”.

“This harm took many forms and included physical harm and fear of physical harm; lack of control over their private space and personal possessions; disruption to sleep and the risk that this presented to physical and psychological well-being and further behaviours that challenged,” the inspectors said.

In response, the facility said it would arrange for the “identification, recording, investigation of, and learning from, serious incidents or adverse events involving residents”.

’Significant concerns’

Elsewhere, an announced inspection of the Park Group - Community Residential Service in Dublin on July 26th, 2018, identified “significant concerns” in relation to fire safety, medication management, safeguarding, and risk management.

There were also “improvements required” to the premises, and in upholding residents’ rights.

The facility, which is operated by the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services, provides residential care and support to female residents, with an intellectual disability.

Despite the shortcomings, residents told inspectors that they were happy in their homes. Residents were observed coming and going to various events and activities, including meals in local restaurants, and returning from part-time jobs.