HSE blasts creche for tough discipline
A CRECHE set up by an award-winning entrepreneur was criticised by the HSE for the use of harsh disciplinary measures which were deemed disrespectful and intimidating to children.
A hard-hitting report by HSE inspectors revealed a series of concerns about Wilmot's Childcare in Annacotty, Co Limerick.
The owner of the creche, Rosemary Wilmot, won the Shell LiveWire Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002, shortly after setting up the creche. Ms Wilmot, who has vehemently disputed some of the HSE's findings, attempted to block the release of the report to the Irish Independent under the Freedom of Information Act.
However, the Office of Information Commissioner Emily O'Reilly ruled the report should be released.
A spokesman for the HSE said it stood over the contents in the report.
HSE officials launched an investigation following a complaint from the parent of a child who had been bitten on eight occasions by other children while in the care of the creche.
The child had been bitten twice on the day of the complaint, May 12, 2008.
The HSE investigators reviewed CCTV footage from that day and found several areas of concern. These included:
- The use of "punitive and inappropriate" disciplinary methods by staff, which should be stopped immediately.
- Young children left standing up against a wall for long periods of time as a disciplinary measure.
- A lack supervision of children by staff.
- Minimal interaction between staff and children.
The report contained a list of recommendations to address the concerns raised.
The report noted that Ms Wilmot told the HSE that staff had not followed agreed procedures for dealing with challenging behaviour. Disciplinary action had been taken and there had been decisive action to ensure there was no repetition, she said.
However, in a statement to the Irish Independent, Ms Wilmot said that while she acknowledged biting incidents had occurred, she took issue with other findings on overcrowding and under-manning.
She said conclusions reached by the HSE on these issues were based on "incomplete and inaccurate information gathered in a relatively short time".
Ms Wilmot said the creche had retained a number of experts who looked at the operation of the creche and had fully endorsed her position.
"All the reports show a high standard of compliance, well in excess of statutory requirements," she said.
The reports were submitted to the HSE as part of an appeal against its findings.
Ms Wilmot said that a meeting later that year, the HSE had acknowledged that the creche generally provided a high standard of care. She also said that the parents of the child involved still had the child at the creche and had also booked in their new baby.
In a statement, the HSE said it stood over the findings of the report.