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Tuesday 28 November 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Mental Health via Shutterstock
Vision for Change

Mental health services still show signs of 'institutional care'

The Inspectorate of Mental Health Services found some of the hostels “too big”.

A REPORT BY Ireland’s mental health services’ watchdog has found that there are still elements of ‘institutional care’ in psychiatric hostels across the country.

In her 2013 assessment, Dr Susan Finnerty said that some 24-hour supervised residences were still “too big” with 72% housing more than 10 residents.

“It is difficult to see these residences as anything but wards in the community with all the disadvantages of institutional care,” she said, noting that some of the buildings had more than 20 beds.

These were described as “very large”.

“It appears that in some cases whole long-stay wards were transferred to large buildings in order to speed up the closure of psychiatric hospitals,” she noted.

The Inspectorate of Mental Health Services also highlighted the problem of some of the hostels being located within a hospital campus, which can “increase the risk of stigmatisation and separateness from the community”.

Of the 115 24-hour hostels that the watchdog knows exist (there are problems with coming up with a definitive number), about six were in “very poor” condition, while another 13 were described as in “poor” condition.

In those 19 buildings, bathrooms were in poor condition and paintwork was peeling. There were also damp patches, dirty floors and overgrown gardens observed.

Although there were a number of improvements – such as widespread use of multidisciplinary care – noted since reports made in 2005, there were also a number of issues outlined by the Inspector.

She recommended that there should be a standard charge by the HSE because the current arrangement was “difficult to understand”. Currently, there is a range of between €50 and €150 a week which “does not appear to be equitable”.

In a separate report, the Inspectorate found 83 children were put into adult psychiatric units last year, despite guidelines forbidding such practices.


  • Console 1800 201 890 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: Minister denies resource issue in area where 13 patients have died by suicide

Related: TD says sending children to adult psychiatric units is ‘inhumane’

More: ‘I stopped self-harming, the thoughts of suicide are gone and I don’t judge myself’

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