Saturday 23 September 2017

Patients with mental illness being treated in 'dirty and dangerous ' units

An inspection of the unit in University Hospital Limerick found hazards such as lifted floors and spillages. (Stock photo)
An inspection of the unit in University Hospital Limerick found hazards such as lifted floors and spillages. (Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Patients treated for mental illness are forced to endure run down and dirty conditions in some hospital psychiatric units, including missing doors, and unclean toilets and sinks.

Curtains which should provide privacy in some cases only stretched half-way around their beds.

The stark conditions were revealed in a series of reports by inspectors from the Mental Health Commission watchdog.

The inspectors expressed serious concern at the continuing practice of putting children in adult units, which are ill-equipped to cater for them.

They found a lack of segregated bathrooms for children in some units.

An inspection of the unit in University Hospital Limerick found hazards such as lifted floors and spillages.

Doors were missing and some had broken or shattered glass.

A soiled sheet was found in the dormitory on the first day of inspection and it was still there the day after.

A separate inspection of St Finian's Hospital in Killarney, Co Kerry, found curtains did not provide full cover around the patient's bed.

Some curtain hooks and rails were dirty and rusty.

The nurses' quarters were cramped and the furniture old and worn. Bags of laundry were sitting in the laundry in pools of water.

Condensation was leaking from the ceilings in the sluice room, due to inadequate ventilation. Condensation in the ceiling of the men's dormitory was also found by inspectors.

Risk

This led to saturation of ceiling slabs and maintenance men feared they were at risk of falling down.

This led to the patients being moved to another room.

The floors were badly stained, paint was peeling and ligature points were not minimised.

Inspectors who visited the unit at Ennis Hospital found there were not enough wardrobes for patients.

One three-bed room only had one wardrobe between three residents.

During the inspection laundry was piled up on the counter tops which were also used for food preparation.

There were two broken toilet seats and holes in the toilet doors. Cracked and ill-fitting toilets were also found by the inspectors.

All hospitals were given a plan to eliminate risks and improve living conditions.

Irish Independent

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