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Homes for 3,500 with disabilities branded 'horrible'

A GRIM picture of the conditions endured by many of the 3,500 people with a intellectual disability living in residential centres was revealed in a new report yesterday.

One-in-10 were living with 12 or more people to a bedroom and half of all units with shared facilities had just 2ft to 4ft between beds -- but in some homes the space was even less, the HSE has revealed.

The insight into the homes -- which are currently not subject to inspection and which get €417m in state funding -- emerged after a visit by a working group set up to develop a plan to move people in these facilities to ordinary homes.

However, Christy Lynch, project manager for the group, who found some "horrible ward-like situations", said it would take at least seven years before this was achieved.

The findings showed:

•In nearly two-thirds of units, residents who are incontinent must be changed in a communal sleeping or day area rather than in privacy.

•Virtually all residents have their own clothes but personal belongings become communal property in about 15pc of units.

•A significant minority have no activities or very limited day activities and more than one-in-10 have no structured day programme.


Mr Lynch found that routines typically appeared to be characterised by early bedtimes.

A significant minority of residents had no or minimal contact with family or friends in the previous year and one-in-10 had not seen any of their relatives for a year.

It found high staffing levels -- 1.65 per resident and the average pay was €54,000 across various disciplines. Nearly 40pc were qualified nurses although much of what was provided was basic care. The average payment per resident was €106,000.

The majority of the residents have been in the homes for at least 15 years.

Speaking at a HSE briefing Kate Hartigan, assistant national director for disabilities, said around 500 residents had already been moved out of the centres and another 50 would leave this year.

"It's a question of reallocating current funding and using it differently. We are not saying that extra money will not be needed. There will be transitional costs," she added.

A value-for-money investigation is currently being carried out by the Department of Health, which will look at how the €1bn disability allocation is spent.

Irish Independent