Sunday 18 February 2018

HSE investigates charity over accusations clients mistreated and neglected

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

A CHARITY providing services for people with intellectual disabilities has had its services reviewed by the HSE after a former member of staff made a number of allegations, including claims that clients were mistreated and neglected.

The move comes five years after an independent consultancy report highlighted a list of failings in the organisation.

The HSE commissioned three separate reviews at County Wexford Community Workshop (CWCW), which receives over €4m-a-year in State funding.

The Enniscorthy-based charity and associated companies provide residential and respite care, as well as clinical, training and employment services. They also run restaurants, a sports centre and a garden centre.

The Irish Independent has learned that concerns raised by a former member of staff were forwarded to the HSE last year.

Officials at the HSE's social care division subsequently ordered reviews looking at the quality of services and concerns over the alleged mistreatment and neglect of service users.

The HSE's internal audit section has also examined concerns raised by the former staff member.

The Irish Independent sought comment from the company's chief executive, Trevor Jacob, but none was forthcoming.

In a statement, the HSE said it had recently received the last of three reports and was considering these. "A plan for their dissemination will then be agreed when the full review is complete," it said.

One of the HSE reviews has been examining what action was taken in response to allegations of neglect and mistreatment referenced in a 2010 report by a consultancy firm.

The unpublished report looked at operating practice and client care at a CWCW enterprise which provides employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Monalee Training and Consultancy was commissioned by CWCW's chief executive to conduct an independent external investigation, in partnership with the HSE, following complaints by the former employee.

The resulting report validated many of the issued raised by the former employee and made over 80 recommendation.

One of the recommendations called for staff to be provided with training on how to treat service users with dignity and respect and to understand the difference between banter and degrading behaviour.

The Monalee report said there appeared to have been no appropriate incident recording system at the enterprise.

Records kept were of an extremely poor and unprofessional quality. Many incident reports had no date and no witness signature.

The Monalee report also found there was sufficient evidence to recommend the further investigation of concerns about the welfare of service users. These included concerns regarding mistreatment or neglect of service users by staff and a claim that one client had a history of sexualised behaviour with another service user.

The report concluded there was a total disregard for any standards around recruitment and vetting at the enterprise.

It also found that the former employee was treated on some occasions in an off hand, unprofessional and unfair manner.

Irish Independent

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