Why should disabled suffer lesser care?
Published 02/04/2015 | 02:30
When the television footage of vulnerable residents in the áras Attracta home for people with an intellectual disability was aired in early December last year, the alarm was quickly followed by the usual ritual of reassurances from the Health Service Executive (HSE).
It issued a series of press releases and fielded some senior executives to promise that measures would be put in place to ensure the future protection of residents who are defenceless.
There was even talk of putting their own undercover cameras in these homes. But nearly two months later, inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) found that while procedures to safeguard residents were in place, they were not consistently implemented.
If the first revelations were distressing, then the latest Hiqa inspections are chilling. How could staff shortages, lack of supervision, poor medication management and a sometimes chaotic environment, leading to challenging behaviour, be allowed continue after all that we were told?
While the physical limitations of the áras Attracta bungalows may not be easily resolved, the other basics of good practice, along with compassionate and safe care, are well able to be addressed quickly.
The disturbing scenes uncovered in the latest Hiqa reports prompt serious questions for those in charge of áras Attracta, locally and nationally.
Who was monitoring the proposed changes which were supposed to be put in place? How can they explain dangers such as a resident falling on a wet floor.
Hiqa also refers to staff not "implementing agreed positive behaviour support", which translates as kindness and encouragement, using their professional training.
It is difficult not to agree with groups who have questioned if there is some lower standard which is regarded as adequate for people who have a disability.
They suffer in silence and will not be seen marching in the streets.
This should surely mark a watershed moment for unacceptable behaviour - but will it?
Talk will not ease mortgage distress
It is reassuring to hear the Taoiseach chide the banks for failing to pass on lower ECB rates to mortgage holders. It is comforting to hear him noting that banks are back in profitability, and right for him to remind banks of their duty to customers.
There is, however, something important missing from Mr Kenny's brave talk. That, of course, is action.
The Taoiseach tells us it is not the Government's job to fix interest rates.
He also falls back on the trusty reminder to families in mortgage difficulty to engage with their lenders.
The brutal reality is that none of this will help borrowers. There are 117,000 families in mortgage arrears and a further 38,000 buy-to-let mortgages in the same predicament.
Many of these involve decent people who were burnt in the property mayhem and have more recently fallen on hard times. These people need and deserve practical help and their plight is also retarding economic recovery.
Government efforts since 2012 have had limited impact and the banks have, in some cases, engaged in window dressing. We need more action - not honeyed words.