Sunday 15 September 2019

Staff at children's centre had to lock themselves in office for own safety

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Stock picture

Eilish O’Regan

Uproar at a children’s residential centre forced staff to lock themselves in an office on two occasions for their own safety and call gardai, a new inspection report has revealed.

The centre in the south of Ireland has a history of severe difficulty managing the behaviour of children who are out of control.

Centre records also showed that An Garda Síochána were called to the centre on eleven occasions, the inspectors from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) reported.

The inspectors who made a return visit in June found 255 significant events during the  previous seven months where children engaged in a variety of risk-taking behaviours, assaults on other children and on staff, property damage, fire setting, intimidation of other children and racist remarks, namecalling, and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Staff experienced huge difficulty in managing the behaviour of the children since the previous inspection.

Some children took up smoking after being placed in the centre.

Data provided by the centre showed that there were 58 incidents of unauthorised absences since the previous inspection.

In response Tusla said today said it has addressed issues in an action plan for improvement.

A spokeswoman said the inspection report showed examples of very positive practice, including children being facilitated to exercise their.

She said each child had a weekly programme of activities during the summer, including canoeing, cycling, horse riding and visits to the national stud and local caves.

However, she said Hiqa has also identified areas for improvement and these have been addressed in the action plan, with many already complete.

The period of challenging behaviour was responded to by management and staff through weekly meetings, risk assessments, individual safety plans, enhanced staffing and additional training.

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