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"Sometimes they shout at you; I don't like it, I shout back": People in care on what THEY need

The opinions of 140 people in care homes were documented and published in a report as part of a review of Áras Attracta.

Money goes into my bank account each week, staff take out the money – it’s not right.
Some staff think it’s their job to abuse you just because you have a disability.
We could work in partnership with staff; consult us, listen to us, show that you consider our ideas, our feelings.

THESE THREE QUOTES, published as part of a review into Áras Attracta care home, give an insight into how those in care would like to be treated and to live.

The centre was the subject of controversy following an RTÉ Investigations Unit probe for Prime Time, broadcast in December 2014, into the standard of care at the facility which highlighted poor standards and the abuse of patients.

The review resulted in three reports: the first, which details reform at Áras Attracta; the second, which that laid out a national plan to allow residents more choice in their lives – and the third report, which compiles the views of residents with disabilities all around the country on how they should be cared for.

This third report, called ‘Start listening to us’, compiles opinions from those in care on how best to serve their needs.

It was these voices which sparked a reform of the care system in Ireland – which will result in residents in care moving into more independent living arrangements, with more choice over what they can do with their day, according to the HSE.

IMAG1071 A total of 140 people participated in the sessions on resident care.

In the report, the opinions of 140 participants were compiled, who had been or who still are in care. They were asked about their care, about policy, and about the things that are most important to them.

The report found that safety, respect, privacy and their friends were the most important things for those in care.

Here’s what else they had to say:

“I had a very bad experience with staff nurses in one place, I was mentally ill when I arrived,” said one participant.

They dragged me to the day room to take tablets, gave me injections. They took my SIM card out of my phone and threw it in the bin.

“My father, when they told him this, asked them why they did it, and they claimed it was because I didn’t want to go to the day room.”

Residents were clear when they requested more control over their lives; over what they do each day and over their personal belongings.

“Service providers won’t tell me how much I have in my own bank account,” said one person.

“I should know, it’s my account. It’s (our) money but we have to sign for it, I want control of my own money.”

Another person said:

Money goes into my bank account each week, staff take out the money – it’s not right.

Residents of care centres also gave a range of suggestions on how the care centres could easily be improved.

“There should be smaller groups,” said a resident.

There are 11 in my house and only three staff from 9 to 9 in the day; then the night staff come in. We need more staff, it needs more money. The HSE should put more money into this type of stuff. There are a lot of empty houses out there – why don’t the HSE buy them and rent them out to those who need them?

The report acknowledges that a lack of staff was an issue brought up repeatedly at these sessions. That problem seriously limited the activities of residents in care:

If I want to go to a football match, I cannot because there are only two staff in my house and they need to look after someone who is in a wheelchair – so I cannot go as there are no staff available to go with me.

Another person said: “If staff are happy in their job, then when such issues arise they can deal with them professionally and humanely without resorting to violent or cruel acts.”

Participants also spoke openly about how staff were ‘cruel’ to them at times.

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One of the participants who used to live in residential care but now has his own apartment said:

They locked me in my room, it was not a nice place, and the staff were not nice to me.

Another said: “Sometimes they shout at you; I don’t like it, I shout back.”

What else did the report find?

Following on from the Áras Attracta review, the HSE also announced a nationwide plan to move care facilities away from ‘congregated settings’ and towards a more ‘domestic’ lifestyle but also under supervision.

This will involve moving residents of Áras Attracta out of the care facility and into ‘community living’ or domestic buildings where they can choose where they live and who they live with.

One participant of the ‘Start listening to us’ report, said “We need to live near to others, near towns, shops, and other services.”

Another said:

If people were supported to live independently in the community, then management of residential units and services wouldn’t be an issue.

Pat Healy, the HSE’s National Director of Social Care, confirmed that €100 million had been “earmarked for this specific programme” to be rolled out nationally between now and 2021.

He added that both residents and staff had been “institutionalised” and that life for residents had been “characterised by inactivity”, with no learning or development in place.

Comments have been closed as legal proceedings connected to this story are still under way. 

Read: ‘Bungalow Three as we saw it then does not exist anymore’ – Áras Attracta report published

Read: Another English language school closes – and says there is an “ongoing crisis in the industry”

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