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'Huge concerns' over future of disability service in Kilkenny

The centre at Ballytobin is to be transferred to the HSE.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rolling News

THERE ARE ‘HUGE concerns’ over changes to the running of a centre for people with disabilities in Kilkenny.

The Camphill Centre at Ballytobin provides services to people with intellectual disabilities, but running of the facilities is being transferred to the HSE following HIQA investigations.

Some of the residents have been living in the centre for over 30 years.

The centre said it could no longer retain current volunteers as part of the move.

Local Fianna Fail councillor Matt Doran said that there are “huge concerns from the families of the residents” at the Camphill Centre in Ballytobin.

“It’s highly regarded by the families. I do have a lot of dealings with most of them. Some of their family members have been attending from anywhere between 19 to 30 years and the families are extremely happy with the way Camphill was being run,” Doran said.

Following a HIQA inspection, Camphill Communities of Ireland was ordered to transfer the facility over to the HSE.

The Camphill Centre at Ballytobin, Kilkenny was founded in 1979. It currently has 19 residents.

Camphill Communities of Ireland was founded in 1972 and the organisation currently provides services for 220 people with intellectual and other disabilities in 17 centres around Ireland.

The Ballytobin centre provides adult education and training, along with therapy services for people with a range of disabilities. Some residents have been living in the centre for over 30 years.

Inspection

The health watchdog HIQA inspected the centre in 2016.

During the inspection, HIQA found that “the manner in which prescriptions were managed posed a potential risk to residents”.

The watchdog also found that the the suitability of living arrangements and safeguarding of children in the centre were a concern.

“Inspectors found that young children were still subject to potentially injurious situations including witnessing very aggressive incidents and being woken during the night by behaviours that challenge,” the report stated.

The inspector found that where a very ill resident required additional night monitoring, it could not ascertain as to whether this monitoring was taking place.

However, the inspection found that there was adequate communal space for all residents to live in, the general welfare of residents was acceptable and access to healthcare was compliant.

HIQA has confirmed that it is engaging in a legal process with Camphill because of serious concerns it has about the safety and quality of service in Ballytobin.

Camphill Ireland has released a statement confirming that HIQA has advised the organisation that the Ballytobin Community is to have its registration cancelled.

We are transferring the running of the community to the HSE and this process has already commenced.

The statement read: “In the main we provided a good service in Ballytobin – and we are now determined that a smooth transition to the HSE will take place to minimise the impact of this decision for the residents and their families.”

“We expect that many of our employed staff will support the HSE, especially during the transition period, but regrettably our volunteers who have supported the centre over many years will no longer be involved,” the organisation said.

The statement said that the organisation will continue to work with the HSE for adequate financial supports to deliver its services.

“However, we are currently challenged financially in providing the services and facilities we aspire to and also meeting the costs of additional regulation.”

A spokesperson for the HSE told TheJournal.ie that HIQA issued Camphill with a Notice of Decision to cancel the registration of Camphill Services’ Ballytobin facility, at a meeting with the regulator on 22 May.

“Camphill, Ballytobin have subsequently considered this matter and have decided to work with the HSE in effecting an orderly transfer of the facility and its residents to the HSE’s direct care,” the spokesperson said.

“The HSE will be working closely with Camphill in the coming days to agree onward planning and actions required, which will be designed to keep any inconvenience to a minimum. ”

 The HSE, in addition to Camphill’s own processes, will ensure that residents, their families and those employed and providing support at Ballytobin are kept fully informed.

Read: Store manager shared videos of disabled employee in WhatsApp group for ‘merriment’

More: ‘Behind each of these numbers is a child that needs help’: The business of fostering in Ireland

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