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Saturday 20 January 2018

Centre for adults with special needs faces closure 'due to serious concerns in inspection reports'

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A 'community-style' centre for adults with special needs is facing closure because of serious concerns noted in inspection reports.

The Camphill Centre at Ballytobin in Callan, Co Kilkenny was set up in 1979 and currently has 19 residents, the youngest of whom is 20 years old.

The group provide a therapeutic community for people with disabilities, some of whom have lived there for almost 40 years.

Now, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is engaged in a legal process with Camphill Centre because of what it says are "serious concerns about safety and the quality of service in Ballytobin."

HIQA said it is now cancelling the registration of the centre at Ballytobin which means that they are now in the process of transferring the running of the community to the HSE.

If the HSE cannot find someone to run the centre, the centre will have to close and the residents will have to be moved elsewhere.

Camphill Communities said they are "determined that a smooth transition to the HSE will take place". They said that they expect their employed staff to continue working at the centre, but said their volunteers will "regrettably no longer be involved".

In a full statement, reported on RTE, they wrote; "In the main we provided a good service in Ballytobin - and we are now determined that a smooth transition to the HSE will take place to minimise the impact of this decision for the residents and their families.

"We expect that many of our employed staff will support the HSE, especially during the transition period, but regrettably our volunteers who have supported the centre over many years will no longer be involved."

One previous HIQA report detailed a "serious choking incident" which reportedly occurred in the Ballytobin centre in March 2016.

The resident had lost consciousness and emergency services were called, RTE reported at the time.

The inspector found that while the risk management plan for the resident was revised, there was no training provided for staff in the management of choking until late May 2016.

There were ten medication errors since January 2016 at the same centre, with six of these involving failure to administer significant medication and one administered at the incorrect time.

Independent.ie understands the families of the residents were called to a meeting on Thursday morning which was to inform people about the next steps in the changeover process at Ballytobin. 

A family member of one resident, who did not wish to be named, said he was "devastated" at the news.

His daughter spends the majority of the week at the centre and sees it as her home, he said.

"You can't make massive changes suddenly and expect everyone to be okay, this is their home," he added.

There are 18 Camphill Communities in Ireland and more than 500 people living in them.

Camphill communities are based on the teachings of philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who died in 1925. They claim to provide opportunities for young people and adults with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs to live, learn and work together with others in an atmosphere of mutual respect and equality.

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