Saturday 17 March 2018

Staff at disability care home were used as 'human shields' to prevent residents from attacking each other

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Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Staff at a disability care home in Co Kildare were used as human shields to prevent residents from attacking each other following a litany of assaults against residents and staff, a damning report by the health watchdog has found.

The Broadleaf Manor care home in Naas failed to ensure residents' safety, inspectors from the Health Information Quality Authority (Hiqa) found following an inspection on May 2.

A previous inspection in February found "significant failures in the quality and safety of care provided to residents", prompting Hiqa's Chief Inspector to take "the extraordinary action" of issuing a warning letter.

Despite this, Hiqa said action taken by operators Nua Healthcare Services since then "did not ensure the safety of residents, visitors and staff".

It logged 79 incidents of "physical and verbal aggression, property damage, residents going missing and self harm", - including residents being spat on by fellow residents. A further 29 incidents in which staff were punched, kicked and head-butted were also recorded in which Hiqa cited "the primary control measure was staff standing between residents to prevent physical assaults".

Hiqa found "residents remained unprotected from violence in any form" and "verbal aggressions and attempted physical aggression was a daily occurrence in the centre." One resident complained they "felt the centre was no longer their home and they cannot eat anymore", while another was told to have a cigarette outside in the middle of the night to protect themselves from being attacked by another resident.

Despite Nua Healthcare's commitment to hire more staff to protect residents, inspectors found "the primary purpose for the additional staff was to stand between residents and physically intervene to prevent assaults from occurring".

As a result, "there was a high level of physical restraint in the centre", including the restraint of a resident for 40 minutes, posing "a significant risk to the resident's health and well being".

"Inspectors found a culture which accepted that high risk and high levels of restrictions were normal," Hiqa said after citing 'major non-compliance' in standards of governance and management, health, safety and risk management and safeguarding and safety following its most recent inspection.

A spokesperson for Nua said: "Nua Healthcare accepts these findings and regrets that the high standards that we strive for, and upon which we pride ourselves, were not met on this occasion. The matters raised in the report are being addressed through a comprehensive action plan, much of which has already been completed, and every issue will be rectified in full."

Irish Independent

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