Saturday 16 December 2017

Safety risks force HSE to take over three residential homes run by Irish Society for Autism

Hiqa. Photo: PA
Hiqa. Photo: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The safety of residents with autism living in three centres was found to have been put at risk due to a range of failures in care.

The HSE has now taken over the running of the centres, which were operated by the Irish Society for Autism (ISA).After inspecting the centres, which had 47 adult residents with autism, patient safety watchdog Hiqa cancelled their registration. The ISA received €4.1m from the HSE last year to run the service.

Hiqa found that there were inadequate protections from injury for residents and, in one centre, the agency staff were not trained in fire safety controls.

The residents are living in three farm-based centres: Cluain Farm, Kilwarden; Dunfirth Farm near Johnstown in Co Meath; and Sarshill House in Co Wexford. Inspectors who visited the Wexford centre in April were particularly concerned that there were inadequate measures to protect residents from serious physical assault by other residents.

They pointed out that many agency staff were not aware that there had been a serious injury.

When they were quizzed by the inspectors, it emerged that they were not trained in the protection of vulnerable adults. The inspectors also found there had been inappropriate guidance in the use of chemical restraint in Dunfirth Farm.

An unannounced inspection of Cluain Farm followed a notification of incidents of concern leading to injuries to residents.

There were ongoing risks to residents, which the inspectors said were not appropriately managed or responded to. And they highlighted poor governance and oversight leading to negative outcomes for residents.

Hiqa said the provider was offered a number of opportunities to address the failings.

Hiqa instigated escalated action including increased monitoring activity, provider meetings and warning letters. This did not result in sufficient improvement and Hiqa cancelled the society's registration.

The provider appealed the decision to the District Court in the case of two of the centres. It later withdrew these appeals and the HSE was directed to take charge of these centres.

In a statement, the providers said: "We have entered into an agreement with the HSE to ensure continuation of services... We are a small organisation and believe that... this is in the best interest of our residents."

Irish Independent

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