Áras Attracta: inexplicable failures

Some of the improvements made at the care facility since 2015 have not been maintained

A Hiqa inspection at Áras Attracta, HSE-managed care facility for adults with intellectual disabilities in Swinford, Co Mayo,  last May revealed a “significant deterioration in the safety arrangements and quality of life experienced by most residents”.

A Hiqa inspection at Áras Attracta, HSE-managed care facility for adults with intellectual disabilities in Swinford, Co Mayo, last May revealed a “significant deterioration in the safety arrangements and quality of life experienced by most residents”.

 

Some 86 people continue to live in unsafe conditions at Áras Attracta, a HSE-managed care facility for adults with intellectual disabilities in Swinford, Co Mayo, according to the latest report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Worryingly, some of the initial improvements made at the facility since 2015 have not been maintained. Given repeated failures by management to implement previously agreed remedial plans, it means Hiqa had little choice but to issue a final warning to the HSE that, in the absence of improved conditions for residents, it will close the facility by February 2018.

The inexplicable inability of HSE managers to follow through on their own improvement commitments is even more difficult to understand in the light of a recent High Court award of €400,000 to a severely intellectually disabled former resident for abuse she suffered in the unit.

Last May a Hiqa inspection revealed a “significant deterioration in the safety arrangements and quality of life experienced by most residents”. It found management had failed to progress plans to move residents to more appropriate community-based accommodation and to consult with residents before making decisions impacting on their personal finances. It also failed to appropriately investigate and respond to residents’ concerns. In its defence the HSE referred to the challenges it faced in moving residents out of “congregated” settings due to a shortage of housing in the community.

Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath expressed his disappointment with the report, but ministerial disappointment will not protect Áras Attracta residents from further abuse and neglect. Unless there is significant progress in the next two months, Hiqa must move to close Áras Attracta. Closure will involve dislocation for residents, but should guarantee their safety. And HSE administrators must be meaningfully disciplined in order to demonstrate that basic health service management failures are unacceptable.

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