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Renewed calls to meet minister after abuse claims at Mayo care home

HIQA inspected the home last summer and found a number of failings.

Aras Attracta care home, Mayo
Aras Attracta care home, Mayo
Image: Goggle Maps

Updated 13.15pm

THE PSYCHIATRIC NURSES Association (PNA) said they have been calling for a meeting with Minister Kathleen Lynch since July to discuss the major non compliances by Aras Attracta residential care centre in County Mayo.

Minister Lynch told TheJournal.ie that she did not meet with the PNA following their request to Minister Varadkar in July as there was an ongoing garda investigation at that time.

The gardaí confirmed to TheJournal.ie at the time that they were investigating the sudden death of a 72-year-old man at the care home in 2012.

It is understood that the man, who was was a long-term resident at the home, became ill while and was taken to accident and emergency department of a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The HSE has launched an independently-led investigation into allegations of abuse at a the residential respite centre.

Concerns were raised by the RTÉ Investigations Unit after they sent an undercover researcher to the facility for three weeks. The programme is due to be aired next Tuesday night.

The allegations made to the HSE include incidences of “slapping” and “forced feeding”.

Concerns 

Derek Cunningham of the PNA said that the had called for a meeting with Leo Varadkar in July, and that it had been referred on to Minister Kathleen Lynch, but there had been no movement on a meeting in recent months.

He said they were awaiting to view the Prime Time documentary to assess the evidence, but added that on the basis of the abuse reports, the behaviour is “totally unacceptable” and “inconsistent with professional conduct”.

This is not the first time that the centre has raised concerns. Last May, an unannounced HIQA inspection found a number of failings.

Inspectors found that mealtime was “unsatisfactory and did not promote dignity, choice, respect or promote independence”.

However, the report also stated:

Inspectors observed good practice in all areas of the service that were inspected although improvements were required.

Death of elderly man

Eight care workers have been suspended as well as one other staff member who is a member of the Psychiatric Nurses Association.

Cunningham said the organisation has been highlighting resourcing and management issues in the unit for many years, adding that public protests outside the unit have also taken place since 2010.

Minister Lynch said she is “extremely shocked and concerned” about the allegations of mistreatment of vulnerable residents, adding that she welcomed the immediate response of the HSE to alert the gardaí and HIQA and for the protection of both residents and staff themselves, to put a number of staff ‘off-duty’ while the allegations are investigated.

I also welcome and support the HSE’s initiation of both an expert investigation into these serious allegations and an independently chaired review of the services provided at this facility, which are so important to the residents and to their families.I have been fully briefed by the HSE since they became aware of these allegations and I have asked that all appropriate resources should be put in place to ensure that the safety and care of residents at Áras Attracta is maintained at the highest possible standard.

Cunningham said they would be renewing their call to meet the minister in the context of the latest reports of abuse at the home.

Read: Calls for urgent meeting with Varadkar after serious failings at Mayo care home>

Read: Gardaí and HSE investigate ‘force feeding and slapping’ at Mayo care facility>

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