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Families tell of horror at vile abuse of patients after shocking documentary

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Sheila Ryan, sister of Mary Garvan who is a resident in Aras Attracta Residential Home in Swinford, Mayo

Sheila Ryan, sister of Mary Garvan who is a resident in Aras Attracta Residential Home in Swinford, Mayo

Mary Garvan, a 65-year-old resident of Aras Attracta residential care centre

Mary Garvan, a 65-year-old resident of Aras Attracta residential care centre

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Sheila Ryan, sister of Mary Garvan who is a resident in Aras Attracta Residential Home in Swinford, Mayo

THE families of a patient abused by her carers in Aras Attracta have told of their horror at how their loved ones were treated.

Sheila Ryan, a sister of 65-year-old Mary Garvan who was one of the women abused in the home, said she was "shocked beyond words" by the callous treatment her sister received.

"I couldn't express it. I've never seen anything like it in all my life," she said.

"They seem to think that she's an object, that she doesn't feel anything. That she doesn't understand anything but she does, she does. Every human being does," she told RTE's Prime Time Investigates programme.

Three separate investigations are now under way into the treatment of residents at a unit in the centre in Swinford as nine members of staff have been suspended without prejudice.

HSE Director General Tony O'Brien said he had asked the Social Care Division to discuss how the HSE could incorporate sending undercover workers into care settings.

Mr O'Brien said in an email to HSE staff that "staff members throughout the health service I have no doubt will, like me, feel utterly disappointed and betrayed by what they will see".

Gardai at Claremorris Garda Station began the process of reviewing the tapes over the weekend.

HIQA Chief Executive Phelim Quinn confirmed to RTE that officers visited Aras Attracta within the past two weeks after being alerted to the abuses and the body is continuing to get updates.

Families were last night were reeling from the distressing images of their loved ones being kicked, slapped, shouted at and physically restrained.

Sheila Ryan described Mary, her older sister who can't communicate as "a very, very gentle person".

"She's very, very aware of your presence. She knows what's going on all around even if she can't communicate," she added.

Sheila also spoke of her pride in Mary that she never retaliated despite being "subjected to that inhumane and degrading treatment".

She has vowed not to rest until the matter is properly investigated.

"This can never ever happen again and not just alone for Mary, for all the other people there," she said. "The least we might expect that people who are in care are treated with dignity and respect."

Breege Dolan, whose sister Ivy McGinty was also abused by staff, told how they were devastated to see the way Ivy had been treated.

HURTFUL

"All the family are very hurt over this. Ivy can't tell us exactly how she feels," she told the programme. "It's very hurtful to watch somebody do that to your own flesh and blood - going into a place where they thought they'd be well looked after."

Breege added that the family no longer know who to trust.

"I always thought Ivy being in Aras Attracta was a wonderful place and we were happy for her. I don't know who to trust now," she said.

hnews@herald.ie


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