'Abuses will continue until homes are shut'
THE shocking abuses inflicted on residents in the Aras Attracta - a HSE residential care home for adults with intellectual disabilities - may be occurring in other institutions around the country and the only way to prevent further abuses is to close such centres and support people to live in communities, the State's Ombudsman has said.
Peter Tyndall said it was "possible" it had been an isolated case but said Ireland has been too slow in developing community-based alternatives to institutional care, "particularly for people with intellectual disabilities".
"Centres like Aras Attracta in many other countries have long since closed and people are living in smaller facilities and are much more engaged with their local communities - getting out to the local cafe or going with staff to do their shopping.
"I know these people have very profound disabilities but in other countries they manage to give them a very different quality of life."
He said institutional provision "by its nature from time to time throws up" abuses like Aras Attracta, because staff members become "institutionalised". He said there would always be a risk of other incidents as long as these institutions exist.
"I can't say there is any evidence there is another Aras Attracta out there so hopefully it's an isolated case. The solution has to be that the commitment to de-institutionalisation is reinstated. Ireland has a policy of closing institutions like Aras Attracta. It's just that during the financial crisis, the rate of progress slowed," Mr Tyndall said.