Saturday 19 January 2019

Sunbeam failings 'awful and shouldn't happen'

HIQA threatens to shut down residential client units

Mary Fogarty

The interim CEO of Sunbeam House has apologised to families and clients for failings identified in HIQA reports released this week.

Hugh Kane, who took the position late last year said that Sunbeam House Services has submitted detailed plans to the watchdog body to resolve all of the outstanding issues.

'We are waiting for their agreement on them,' he said, adding that the failings were 'awful and shouldn't happen'.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) told Sunbeam management that if practices did not improve, some of the units would have to close.

The Sunbeam House Family Advocacy Group said yesterday that it was shocked to learn of a number of HIQA reports regarding centres run by Sunbeam House Services.

'We are extremely concerned at the proposal by HIQA to cancel registration of units of Sunbeam House Services which in effect could render service users homeless. However, we would not endorse the continuation of unsafe or poor quality services,' the group said in a statement.

The reports were released on Monday by HIQA.

With regard to Vevay Close in Bray, HIQA warned that it will move to close the residential centre for people with disabilities unless there are improvements in its management. On the day of inspection, agency staff were in place with no person in charge at the facility.

At Tus Nua in Greystones, inspectors found incidents of 'peer-to-peer' assault involving a visually impaired resident.

A residential facility in Sugarloaf Crescent, Bray, was found to be majorly non-compliant in two outcomes involving management and workforce.

The family advocacy group said that it has spoken with some families who are very upset by these reports.

Mr Kane said that the problems did not arise overnightt but had built up over a period of time. 'We are really focussed to, as best as we can and as quick as we can, resolve the issues,' he said. 'We have come up with strategies to address and work towards that.'

'The Family Advocacy Group have noted and acknowledge the apology by the Acting CEO,' the group said in a statement.

'The family advocacy group has attempted to bring these issues to the attention of the board since inception and are happy that it is now compulsory to have all residential units registered with HIQA.'

They said that service users experiencing a poorer than expected standard of care could have been avoided 'if the members of the board and senior management had listened to and acknowledged the issues and matters raised by many families.'

While welcoming the appointment of the acting CEO, the group fears that without significant changes at board and senior management level 'it will be difficult to institute the changes required in culture and governance.'

The advocacy group said that they will be contacting the Minister for health and the HSE to establish why the action plan in response to a quality assurance report last year 'appears to have failed the service users of Sunbeam House Services despite the issues being highlighted.'

At an unannounced inspection at Vevay Close last October, inspectors found that there was a risk to residents' safety due to a breakdown of governance and management systems. The centre was home to seven adults with mild to moderate level of needs.

According to the report, HIQA had warned Sunbeam last August that they would face consequences if they did not bring the facility into line with regulations by November.

The inspection occured earlier than planned due to a tip-off that arrangements to keep residents safe and to provide appropriate staffing were inadequate and unsustainable.

Inspectors found there was nobody in charge the morning they arrived and agency staff were piecing together a roster for the day having been left in the dark about their shifts. Staff had voluntarily worked extra hours to ensure residents' needs were met, according to the report.

At least four times in the previous couple of months, residents complained to staff that they were fearful of threats from some of their peers and were worried for their safety.

Inspectors were also concerned about Sunbeam House's ability to manage restraint measures in such a way as to ensure that they did not abuse residents.

In Greystones, an inspection found that a visually-impaired resident suffered daily assaults. There were up to five incidents a day, according to the report. Inspectors found that the resident had their head and neck repeatedly grabbed by other residents.

According to the report, the operator 'failed to respond and take effective action to protect the resident.' Case notes suggested the resident was 'not at risk' from others.

There were some improvements during a second unannounced inspection in October 2017, but inspectors found that agency staff were less skilled at dealing with challenging behaviour.

Bray People