Friday 24 February 2017

Care home residents complain of physical and sexual abuse

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Fourteen allegations of sexual or physical abuse were made by residents of homes for the intellectually disabled over two years, new figures revealed yesterday.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) told the Irish Independent it received 316 complaints covering various issues about services between 2007 and March last year.

Of these, 11 allegations were made about physical or sexual abuse in residential centres in the west of the country, one was in the northeast, two in the south. There was no complaint of this nature in the midlands.

A HSE spokesman said care staff have been removed from duty and disciplinary action was taken following complaints.

He said: "Many complaints are not serious in nature and are dealt with at local level." The HSE was unable to confirm a report that 500 complaints of abuse had been made in the last two years at these centres.

The Department of Health announced last December that independent inspection of these residential facilities would begin at the end of this year. When questioned on the progress of this promise, delivered on Budget day -- a Department spokesman told the Irish Independent yesterday that Health Minister Mary Harney would shortly be bringing proposals to Government.

Standards

He said an implementation procedure was in place to allow for the independent registration and inspection of all residential centres and respite services for children with a disability, by next December. A series of standards was drawn up and published last year but they could not be approved due to the country's economic difficulties.

The standards would have allowed for independent inspections of the homes but have yet to be given a statutory footing. The HSE said yesterday it has been working with the homes it runs directly to implement the standards.

The spokesperson added: "We would encourage anyone who is not satisfied with the response they received to a complaint to contact our Consumer Affairs Department, details of which can be found on www.hse.ie"

Deirdre Carroll, chief executive of Inclusion Ireland, the support group for people with a disability, said: "Children and adults with disabilities are very vulnerable and are particularly at risk of abuse and neglect, yet no inspectors enter disability services to ensure adequate care is being provided".

Irish Independent

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