Monday 5 December 2016

Vulnerable woman returned to family home even though she had been sexually abused by relative

Published 14/07/2016 | 22:26

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA

A vulnerable woman in HSE care was regularly returned to her family home despite it being known that she had been sexually abused in childhood by a family member.

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The home visits were to be supervised but the HSE worker who accompanied the woman had no knowledge of the abuse or of the need to supervise the visits.

The allegation is contained in a leaked report obtained by RTÉ Investigates.

The report, which dates from 2013, was written by a senior social worker and examined 1080 files spanning a 30 year period.

It reveals that there were almost 200 adults with intellectual disabilities for whom case files did not exist.

Other files had not been updated in over 25 years and consisted of nothing more than a single sheet of paper with the author referring to some as a “complete mystery”.

In one case a client who had been placed with a service some 17 years earlier and hadn’t been visited by the health board or HSE in the intervening years.

The client’s files contained “very little information” despite the placement costing “€88,000” annually.

 And another case referred to a man with Down Syndrome who spent his whole life in residential care, yet when the report’s author and this colleague visited him, they were “the first official people” to have done so in 16 years.

In a statement, the HSE said that of the 1080 disability files reviewed “47 priority cases” were highlighted for follow up.

It said the care and safety needs of all the cases highlighted are being met - there are “no current safeguarding issues”. And a range of service improvements have been put in place to “safeguard vulnerable adults from neglect or abuse”.

Last year the show  revealed how a young woman with profound intellectual disabilities, now known by the pseudonym ‘Grace’, was left in a care setting in Waterford for almost 20 years despite a succession of sexual abuse allegations.

When failures in the ‘Grace’ case came to light, two case reviews were commissioned by the HSE, one in 2012 and a second in 2015, but both reviews have not been published.

The Government then announced earlier this year that the entire matter would be subject to a statutory Commission of Investigation.

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