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HSE launches investigation into south Dublin disability service after mistreatment allegations

The mother had had a number of meetings with HSE management before it decided to investigate the matter.

Image: Shutterstock/David Tadevosian

THE HSE IS investigating a taxpayer-funded private care firm after a mother alleged that her son, who has a number of disabilities, was left unattended in a bath and burned with hot food by inexperienced care staff.

Her son, who is in his 30s and has cerebral palsy, has been receiving home help care through a south Dublin based firm for the last six months.

The mother, who lives in the same house as her son, became sceptical of the standard of care he was receiving when she claims she noticed of one the staff members not carrying out basic checks.

On one occasion, the mother claims that her son was left unattended in a deep bath. The carer had left to prepare his food.

In another alleged incident, the mother said a carer did not check the temperature of her son’s food, another basic care technique, which burned his mouth as a result.

There was nothing in place to stop him from sinking to the bottom of the bath, according to the mother.

In the aftermath of the bath incident, the mother contacted the HSE to complain about the service and apparent lack of training by staff at the private healthcare company.

Initially she said she was told that this was an issue for the private firm and that all complaints should be directed to them.

She rejected this and said she wanted to speak to someone in the HSE about it.

After a number of requests, the mother eventually met with four HSE staff members who have responsibility for disability services but said that it seemed they were trying to shift blame back on to the company and not take any blame for the service her son was receiving.

The HSE met with her again on Thursday and new arrangements regarding her son’s care are now being made.

The woman has been in touch with local TDs about what can be done. The HSE said it is now investigating the care firm involved in the alleged mistreatment.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie on condition of anonymity, the mother said: “I am heartbroken and angry. The standard of care my son has been receiving is nothing short of disgraceful. These people promise the world on their website yet they employ people without basic skills and who seem unaware of basic standards of healthcare and practice or health and safety procedures. If I could, I’d shut them down.

“They are sending incompetent carers into people’s homes to deal with the most vulnerable clients. I have all the incidents catalogued and have emails I sent to the company.

“I’ve had a meeting with reps from the HSE and it felt it was like an ambush. I left as they were there simply to defend the company involved. So thus far I have not been able to make a complaint about a service they are providing. No accountability. I’m going to fight on.”

The HSE funds private care companies to carry out services on its behalf through grants.

Contractual arrangements and service level arrangements which, following a tender process, include certain requirements regarding quality and safety.

When a person has a complaint they want to make about a service they are receiving from the HSE directly or through a provider, the HSE said the person can complain to the it directly and the matter will be enquired into in accordance with their policy – Your Service Your Say.

Asked about the company in question, a spokeswoman for the HSE said: “The HSE is establishing with the assistance of the family the extent of any “misconduct” which may have arisen in the delivery of care to this client.

“The HSE met with the family on the 28th of June in this regard. Further discussions are planned with the provider and care alternatives will be identified as appropriate. The HSE has sought detailed information in order to further examine the nature of complaints with this agency.”

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