Tuesday 20 August 2019

Too many residential centres for people with intellectual difficulties failing to meet standards - report

One in three hospitals inspected over the course of a year had no formal plan on medication
safety, according to a Hiqa report. (stock image)
One in three hospitals inspected over the course of a year had no formal plan on medication safety, according to a Hiqa report. (stock image)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Too many residential centres for people with an intellectual disability are still failing to meet standards despite improvements, a new report has revealed.

Weaknesses include failure to  ensure proper safeguarding of residents while the physical state of several homes is also below standard.

The verdict has emerged in a five year review of inspections of disability centres  by the Health Information and Quality (HIQA).

Data from the first five years of regulation shows improvements in levels of compliance year-on-year, with overall compliance with all regulations inspected increasing from 59pc in 2013 to 76pc in 2018.

Mary Dunnion, HIQA’s Director of Regulation and Chief Inspector of Social Services, said: “When HIQA commenced the regulation of residential services for people with disabilities on November 1, 2013, it was the first time such services were subject to independent regulation.

“Our findings in the first few years were reflective of a sector that was not initially prepared for regulation, with some services providing good services, and poor practice and low levels of compliance evident in others.

“Over the past five years, however, regulation has driven improvements in these services through monitoring, inspections and enforcement action. In particular, our inspection findings show that residents’ rights and dignity are better promoted, and their social care needs are now being met in most cases.

“ Residents regularly tell us how these improvements have positively impacted their lives.

“ For example, moving to houses nearer their families, going on holidays or to concerts, working in their local communities and having more control over what they do on a daily basis.”

She said that notwithstanding these improvements, significant challenges remain regarding the management and oversight of services, addressing infrastructural deficits and safeguarding vulnerable people.

She added: “The governance arrangements in some centres have continually failed to ensure there is adequate oversight of the quality and safety of the service. There are also ongoing challenges for some providers in achieving a safe and high-quality living environment for residents.

“While regulation has brought about increased awareness of the rights of people with disabilities, safeguarding issues continue to be regularly raised by our inspectors. Better protections need to be put in place to safeguard residents from abuse and to extend the protections offered by regulation to other vulnerable people. We await the Minister for Health’s approval of the National Standards for Adult Safeguarding, developed by HIQA and the Mental Health Commission.

“In addition, the introduction of specific legislation would ensure a legal basis to safeguard people who live in residential care. In supporting this, HIQA is a member of the Department of Health’s steering group to inform the development of the Health Sector Adult Safeguarding Policy and is a member of Safeguarding Ireland.

“Similarly, we believe that the model of regulation in Ireland needs to be reviewed and expanded to ensure that all people who receive a health or social care package, either in a service or in their home, receive consistently good quality support that is underpinned by regulations.”

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