Care homes criticised for 'shared gender' facilities
FEMALES and males with an intellectual disability had to share cubicles in three residential homes operated by a major HSE-funded organisation.
And some children were also accommodated in the same houses occupied by adults, inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) revealed.
The practices at Stewart's Care Ltd in Palmerstown, Dublin – which received over €40m in funding last year – led the inspectors to express serious concern to management last February. Management at the facility admitted that placing children in the same house as adults was inappropriate.
The complex has 24 houses and 175 residents with an intellectual disability.
The use of 'shared gender' dormitories in three of the houses caused discomfort among staff, who clearly articulated this to inspectors, the inspectors' report said.
Other factors included the lack of suitable locks on toilet and bathroom doors, and the use of inappropriate utensils for eating.
"Inspectors noted that in some instances, tables for meals were nicely laid and the crockery used was appealing and attractive. This was not a consistent finding, however."
The inspectors made an announced inspection in mid-February, but this was followed up by an unannounced visit over several days later in the month.
They also criticised the use of all-in-one body suits and lap belts as a means of restraining residents who had challenging behaviour.
Inspectors found no evidence of consultation about the use of such systems and risks associated with restrictive procedures, and staff gave conflicting information on the reasons for the restraint.
"In particular, the all-in-one suits are worn day and night by a significant number of residents," the report said.
"While there was clinical assessment, clear rationale and protective factors for their uses in some cases were not consistently evident.
"For example, inspectors were informed that the suits were used because single staff at night could not be available to see to personal care needs.
"In another case, the inspectors were informed that the lap belt on an ordinary wheelchair was to prevent a resident getting up and falling. However, the risk of the resident falling with the chair as observed by inspectors had not been considered."
The inspectors also said they were not satisfied from observation and records available that the numbers and skill mix of staff was satisfactory for the needs of the residents on a 24-hour basis.
Stewarts Care said it is now working on an action plan, which it received from HIQA, to address the various issues highlighted by inspectors.