Monday 21 October 2019

Patients in hospital psychiatric unit had to eat meals by bedside despite new communal dining room - report

University Hospital Waterford Photo: Catherine Devine
University Hospital Waterford Photo: Catherine Devine
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Patients in a hospital psychiatric unit had to eat their meals by their bedside because they could not access a new communal dining area, an inspector’s report has revealed.

A lack of catering staff at the psychiatric unit in University Hospital Waterford left the new communal area unused, the report by the Mental Health Commission (MHC) showed today.

The unit had two areas of critical non-compliance in relation to the use of seclusion and maintenance of records.

There were five instances of ‘high’ risk rating in the areas of privacy, premises, staffing, registration, and admission of children.

The report said the inspection of the same centre also found that residents could not access the new communal and dining areas in the acute unit.

“This meant that the centre was in breach of a condition that the centre would, by December 31, 2017, ‘undertake building works, essential maintenance and refurbishments’ of the unit ‘to ensure there are adequate and appropriate communal spaces” for therapeutic services, recreational activities, dining, and to facilitate visitors.”

The inspection also found that the centre remained non-complaint in relation to another condition around mandatory training for staff. Both conditions were, and remain, attached to the registration of the centre.

Commenting on the breach, Mental Health Commission chief inspector Dr Susan Finnerty, said: “There was a new communal area and dining area designed and built in the acute unit, which was ready for use since February 2018.

"Residents did not have access to this new communal and dining area, and residents were eating meals by their bedside at the time of the inspection [in July 2018].”

In relation to the same centre, Dr Finnerty said that “clinical files were in very poor order. There were potential confidentiality breaches, and there was lack of logical sequencing in records. Clinical files were not stored securely. This non-compliance was risk rated as critical.

“Generally, it is disappointing that in three of the approved centres not all staff had received the required training in basic life support, fire safety, the management of aggression and violence, and on the Mental Health Act 2001.

"On the other hand, it is heartening to see that in two approved centres all the health care professionals had up-to-date, mandatory training completed. This is the high standard we require from approved centres.

“Other areas of concern to the Inspectorate are in the area of hygiene, where catering areas and catering and food safety equipment were not appropriately cleaned. These areas of non-compliance do not support food safety requirements.”

Another centre - the Acute Psychiatric Unit in Cavan General Hospital – was ‘high risk’ non-compliant in the areas of food safety; privacy; premises; staffing; and ordering, prescribing, storing and administration of medicines.

The Phoenix Care Centre in Dublin had three high-risk non-compliances in the area of premises; use of closed circuit television; and the use of physical restraint. The Phoenix Care centre in Dublin also had three compliance areas rated as excellent.

Dr Finnerty, also highlighted “Willow Grove Adolescent Unit in Dublin had the highest compliance rate, being fully compliant in 2017 and 2018 with twenty-four compliances rated as excellent.

"Owenacurra in Midleton was 90pc compliant, with three compliance areas rated as excellent, despite the unit only being registered as an approved centre for the past three years. These compliance rates reflect the work of the Commission and the consistent approach of the approved centres year on year.”

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