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Offaly disability centre failed to ensure residents were safe from 'all forms of abuse', HIQA report finds

The inspection was carried out at Millbrook House last November.

Image: Shutterstock/fizkes

A RESIDENTIAL CENTRE for people with disabilities in Co Offaly was found to be failing to ensure residents were “protected from all forms of abuse”, according to an inspection report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). 

HIQA carried out an inspection of Millbrook House in Co Offaly which is operated by the charity RehabCare. The inspection took place in November last year. 

In a report published today, HIQA outlined that there were incidents of unpleasant verbal interactions between residents that had escalated in the four months before the inspection. 

“While most incidents were minor in nature, the frequency of them was psychologically upsetting for the residents involved and staff were aware of this,” the report said. 

“With this in mind, much of the activities were organised in such a way that residents spent minimal time in each others company.”

The report said the frequency of verbal exchanges between residents resulted in their “psychological distress”.

“While these occurrences had escalated in recent months, they had been ongoing from at least May 2019. Given that residents were living in a fraught environment over a long period of time, the provider was failing in their responsibility to ensure residents were protected from all forms of abuse, including psychological abuse.”

The centre can accommodate a maximum of three adults.

The report said that the house environment was generally calm with less anxiety displayed by one resident in the early months of the pandemic.

At this point, there were only two residents living in the house. 

“The impact of a third resident in the house again, from August 2020 onwards, increased the likelihood of behaviours that challenge,” the report said. 

“There were many good aspects as to how the move into the house by a third person was managed but there was no doubting the likelihood of behaviours that challenge would increase.”

The report added that some of the “behavioural challenges that occurred in the centre manifested as psychological trauma for residents and these were documented and reported”. 

The report there were a number of aspects of the management systems which “did not adequately ensure that the service provided was safe, appropriate to residents’ needs, consistent and effectively monitored”. 

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Staff recorded any incidents that occurred and documents showed they regularly sought advice from specialists around managing behavioural challenges. 

“However, the request and receipt of advice was on emails and generally difficult to piece together,” the report said. 

The report added that extra staff were deployed to manage the situation created by the residents living together.

It said this worked in some regards, but it also curtailed residents’ independence in some instances due to differing resident to staff ratios. 

After the inspection, the report said one resident has since had a full medical and psychiatric review to try and determine the “cause of the increased expressions of behaviours that challenge that are causing the safeguarding concerns”.

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