Sunday 27 May 2018

Áras Attracta residents 'at continued risk of harm' three years after TV exposé - damning report

Large campus in danger of losing its registration unless an action plan is implemented by next February

The Áras Attracta centre for adults with intellectual disabilities,
in Swinford, Co Mayo. Photo: Keith Heneghan/Phocus.
The Áras Attracta centre for adults with intellectual disabilities, in Swinford, Co Mayo. Photo: Keith Heneghan/Phocus.
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Residents of the HSE-run Aras Attracta disability centre are at continued risk of harm, a damning inspection report has revealed.

The large campus of bungalows in Mayo, which was the subject of a television expose showing mistreatment of residents three years ago, is in danger of losing its registration unless an action plan is implemented by next February.

The notice was served by inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) after they found a litany of failings this year.

The inspectors' report said:"Over the course of inspections referred to in this report, inspectors found evidence of the provider’s failure to ensure that the systems and processes developed to safeguard residents from harm and abuse were being effectively implemented and overseen.

"In particular, the provider had failed to respond to a significant number of occurrences and reports of alleged abuse between residents. In some cases, inspectors found that the provider was not ensuring that safeguarding concerns were being responded to in line with their own policies and procedures."

In other examples, where safeguarding plans had been developed, inspectors found evidence that the provider was failing to implement these plans appropriately.

Inspectors said staff were not implementing safeguarding procedures in relation to reporting of unexplained bruising. While these incidents were being recorded, they were not being referred to the designated safeguarding officer as required by the provider’s own procedures.

The number of staff available in the centres was insufficient to meet residents’ needs. This resulted in some residents being unable to participate in community activities of their choice, or at the time they had planned to participate in these.

For example, in some bungalows, the majority of staff time available was allocated to residents with higher personal support needs, meaning some residents with lower personal support needs often spent a significant amount of their day in their home without any meaningful activities or engagement with staff or the wider community.

When the HSE submitted its original action plan in October 2015, there were 89 residents living in Áras Attracta. The plan included a goal to transition 27 residents to more appropriate, community-based accommodation by the end of 2016, with a further 26 due to transition by the end of 2017. However, at the time of the most recent inspection, 86 residents were still living on the campus

Today’s report is an overview report of monitoring activity undertaken between 2015 and 2017 in Áras Attracta.

Over the course of 14 inspections from July 2015 to May 2017, Hiqa found that the HSE was consistently failing to appropriately address the institutional model of care, centralised care practices, safeguarding issues and lack of opportunities for residents’ personal development and growth on the campus.

On 28 September 2017, the Office of Chief Inspector of Social Services issued the HSE with notices of Hiqa’s proposed decision to cancel the registration of all three Áras Attracta centres.

 While there have been some improvements for a minority of residents, there is insufficient evidence to show that these improvements have been maintained.

A spokesman said:”As set out in the Health Act 2007, the registered provider was given 28 days from 28 September 2017 to make written representations to the Chief Inspector before a final decision to cancel the registration of all three Áras Attracta centres would be made. These representations, received on 31 October 2017, set out the actions that are now being taken by the provider to ensure that the care and support to residents in the Áras Attracta is improved.

“The Chief Inspector has given consideration to these proposed actions and will schedule an unannounced inspection of the centres to verify whether these actions have been effective in making life better for residents who live in Áras Attracta. Hiqa will use the findings from these inspections to inform a final decision on the registration of the centres by February 2018.”

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