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Mental Health

Privacy improves at St Ita’s Hospital but units remain "unsuitable for residents" - report

The details of an unannounced visit at the Willowbrook and Woodview units of the hospital have been published.

THE RESULTS OF an unannounced inspection at St Ita’s Hospital, Donabate, Co Dublin have been published by Mental Health Commission.

An inspection on 15 May showed that while there was an “excellent rehabilitation and recovery ethos,” no care plan had been in place for one of its residents at the time of the inspection.

The report said that “this was unfortunate because the quality of the individual care plans was excellent.” A care plan has since been put in place for the patient in question.

The report also said that both its Willowbrook and Woodview units, which are due to close in December 2013, “remained unsuitable for residents.”

Of four conditions which had been set out previously, the report found that conditions one and two, which required “a skill mix and complement of staff appropriate to the
assessed needs of the residents” and “refurbishment works on Willowbrook Unit” had both been met.

“Definite progress” was reported as having been made into both the closure of the Willowbrook Unit by the end of next year (conditi0n three) and the supplying of quarterly reports on the “full decommissioning of rehabilitation services in St Ita’s Hospital” (condition four).

On the issue of food safety, substantial compliance had been found, with “additional improvement needed”.

While the provision of recreational activities has been substantially complied with in 2011, the latest report showed that full compliance had been reached.

Procedures regarding visits required additional improvement, with the report stating that there was “no dedicated space for visitors in Woodview and little privacy for visitors.”

The report also found that “there was no information available about diagnosis or treatment for the residents” but that suitable material was now being sourced.

Having reported “minimal compliance” where privacy was concerned in both 2010 and 2011, “substantial compliance” had now been achieved. This was partly due to remedial work having increased the level of privacy in both toilets and bathrooms. The omission of “privacy curtains” and, in once instance, a bed curtain, had contributed to the hospital failing to achieve full compliance.

The premises of both the Willowbrook and Woodview units were “not compliant,” describing both as “highly unsuitable for the needs of the residents”.

The report listed the reasons for this:

Willowbrook was an institutionalised building with narrow corridors and a nine-bed dormitory. Woodview was an amalgamation of two houses; the rooms were small, there was a steep staircase and there were shared bedrooms.

The units were in full compliance in relation to staffing, having been found to not be complaint in 2010 and only having minimal compliance in 2011.

Risk management procedures had also reached a status of fully compliant, having failed to do so in 2010 and 2011.


In its overall conclusions, the report found that “the rehabilitation and recovery ethos of the approved centre was clearly evident and the rehabilitation and recovery team were to be congratulated on this,” with staff displaying an impressive level of “knowledge and enthusiasm”.

On the proposed closure of both units at the end of 2013, it said:

There was recognition that the premises in the approved centre was not suitable for residents and both units would be closed by the end of 2013. This would bring about the complete closure of the adult mental health services in St. Ita’s Hospital and a move for the current residents to more appropriate community living.

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