Sunday 20 May 2018

Families welcome 'full investigation' into service for adults with disabilities

Sunbeam House Services on Vevay Road
Sunbeam House Services on Vevay Road
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Families whose relatives use services at Sunbeam House Services (SHS) in Co Wicklow have welcomed a commitment to a full inquiry into the centre.

Representatives of the families met today with Minister Simon Harris and officials from the Department of Health and said they felt their concerns had been listened too.

The centre was subject to an assurance review when concerns were raised about the handling of complaints.

The review, chaired by former Hiqa chief Gordon Jeyes, found faults with the centre’s complaints policy and their safeguarding procedures.

The service is facing abuse allegations in relation to sexual, physical, financial and psychological abuse as well as neglect allegations.

"We are pleased that both the HSE and the Minister for Health have responded to us and we feel that we are being listened to and things are moving forward," a spokeswoman for the family said.

"We are happy to say that there will be a full inquiry and as a group of families we are happy with that.

"We are confident that there is a commitment to put new processes and procedures will be put in place that will protect the safety of our families."

The Jeyes review found that the “service did not always investigate complaints in line with their agreed purpose”.

The Jeyes review recommended that the complaints process be reviewed to ensure maximum understanding of the process for everyone involved.

While a register of risk was in place there was no local policy outlining the list of so-called “serious reportable events” which need to be passed onto the HSE in writing, making it difficult to fully meet national requirements

The report found “no indication of any fundamental deficits”in the safeguarding work of the investigation but did find the need for training to deliver the HSE awareness programme in relation to safe-guarding.

SBH had “devoted time and energy to complaints handling” but there was insufficient evidence of learning from complaints or an analysis of trends, the report notes.

Processing of complaints was also protracted in some cases leading to a deterioration of confidence in the case of some families the report notes.

The Jeyes review noted that the team “has been unable to determine how many [complaints] were upheld and how the organisation learned from the process”.

SHS previously welcomed the Jeyes review and said it was committed to implementing the recommendations of the report.

The organisation also pointed out that there has been no confirmed case of sexual abuse in the centre in the last seven years.

The service said all complaints alleging abuse are treated in accordance with procedures.

In a statement, released on Friday evening, Sunbeam House Services said they were committed to the implementation of a detailed action plan.

"SHS  it is determined to rebuild trust and will address its procedures and governance issues as a matter of priority as the organisation renews its commitment to the people which SHS supports together with their families and the communities served by SHS."

The statement continued:

"SHS also indicated that it would fully co-operate with any further investigations to be conducted.

"SHS again apologised for the shortcomings evidenced in the Assurance Review report and is fully committed to working together with service users, families and other stakeholders to providing a person-centred service that is kind and just, and that promotes and protects the interests and well-being of everyone who is supported by SHS."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "Minister Harris and the relatives of clients of Sunbeam House Services had a very productive meeting today. The independent Assurance Review led by Gordon Jeyes was discussed in detail and further consultation will take place on the Service Improvement Plan being put in place by the HSE and Sunbeam House Services in response to the Review.

"Minister Harris has agreed a number of important next steps with the families, including the establishment of an independent investigation into the substance of the complaints raised against Sunbeam House Services, the revision of the Board and governance structures of Sunbeam House Services, and the provision of increased support for enhanced family engagement at service and corporate level."

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