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File photo: Hair cuttings on floor. Shutterstock/ENRIQUE ALAEZ PEREZ
Mental Health

Litter, cigarette butts and cut hair observed on the floor of adult psychiatric unit

The review of the Jonathan Swift Clinic found a number of failings.

LITTER, DIRT, CIGARETTE butts and cut hair was observed on the floors of an acute adult psychiatric unit located at St James’ Hospital in Dublin.

An annual review of the Jonathan Swift Clinic, conducted by the Mental Health Commission, found the conditions to be unacceptable, with areas noticeable too small and cramped for residents.

The report noted that noise levels were high, and the centre was not kept in a good state of repair, externally or internally.

When inspected, there were holes in the wall, which had been reported as a problem, but had not been repaired.

It noted:

The approved centre was not clean and there were offensive odours as the smell of cigarette smoke was pervasive throughout.
Litter, dirt, cigarette butts and cut hair was observed on the floors. Some toilets required deep cleaning. There was no documented evidence of a cleaning schedule having been implemented.

The commission said there was insufficient number of toilets and showers for residents in the centre, there was no laundry room and no dedicated therapy room.

Due to inadequate space, there were just two three-seater couches in the sitting room, serving 26 residents.

In respect of residents’ privacy and dignity, the inspectors noted that two residents were observed to be wearing theatre gowns during the course of the inspection.

The theatre gowns did not provide adequate coverage and one resident may have been visible to workmen who were working in close proximity to the patients.

Both residents were staying on a mixed ward of male and female residents, which the commission stated “was unacceptable”.

While kitchen surfaces were found to be clean and hygienic, the kitchen floor in the Fownes unit was observed to be “dirty”.

Food stored with incontinence pads

On the first day of the inspection of Beckett ward, food was found in the same storage unit as incontinence pads, dishwasher liquid, dishwasher salt, and other non-food items.

“This was not a suitable facility for the storage of food,” said the commission.

The commission said the smell of cigarette smoke was “pervasive” throughout the facility, with communal rooms, which were quite small, smelling of smoke.

The visiting room on one ward had a strong tobacco odour as a result of residents smoking out of the window, noted the report.

In addition to being found non-compliant in areas of privacy and dignity, as well as clothing, the report noted that there were breaches in the storing of medicines also.

During the first day of inspections, the medication trolley was left open and unattended in the dining room area within the Connolly Norman ward.

The commission also carried out interviews with a number of residents and staff members.

Staffing levels at the centre were deemed to be at a critical level.

Some health workers said the centre was currently an operational risk due to staffing shortages. The commission noted a number of staff were on extended leave, which resulted in there being inadequate staffing levels at the centre.

Staff shortages was having a direct impact on residents, leading to the cancellation of recreational activities for patients.

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