Care centre complaints lead to staff suspensions

by Ian Begley
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Twelve staff members at the Stewarts Care organisation in Palmerstown have been suspended following a series of allegations of neglectful and abusive practices made by student nurses who were on work placement.
An investigation into the abuse allegations will commence over the standard of care provided to residents at the care facility for people with intellectual disabilities by nurses and care staff.
According to newspaper reports the abusive incidents that are alleged to have occurred include clients being locked out of their bungalows, shower doors being left open while individuals were being showered, and service users being spoken of as if they were not present.
Stewarts Care Ltd has released a statement regarding the allegations, confirming that 12 staff members were suspended with full pay in order to facilitate an investigation.
“Stewarts received reports at the end of November from student nurses containing observations that indicated concerns around some practices in relation to the delivery of services to service users in our residential services,” said a spokesperson in the statement.
The care facility said the parents of service users identified in the reports have been contacted and the issue discussed with them.
Stewarts has since informed the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and the HSE of the reports and is working with HIQA to advance an investigation. An external investigation is in progress and further actions will be based on the outcome of this.
“In this context 12 staff members were placed off duty on full pay in order to facilitate the investigation. This in no way indicates any finding of fault against any member of staff,” said the Stewarts’ spokesperson.
Speaking to the Gazette, a spokesperson for HIQA said that in situations such as this they would conduct an inspection into the practices and regulations of a care facility and publish a report on their website.
“Concerns are brought to us all the time in relation to types of care provided. It could be a breach in regulations or standards; it could be everything from room sizes not being big enough to physical abuse,” said the spokesperson.
“We basically risk assess and we decide what we do in terms of inspecting a place. We go and interview staff, we interview relatives, and we interview residents.”
Siobhan Kane of Inclusion Ireland told the Gazette that families and people who use care services such as Stewarts tend to be very anxious and worried when allegations like this surface.
She said: “An awful lot of trust is put into disability service providers such as Stewarts and that trust is something that can be easily broken, but hard to fix.”
Kane continued to say that Stewarts should “adequately communicate with families and people using its services, and let them know exactly what the situation is, what they’re doing to investigate it, what the process is and how people can contact them if they have any further concerns.”
A spokesperson from the HSE confirmed that Stewarts Care informed the HSE and HIQA of the reports it received relating to the abuse allegations.
“An investigation team was identified and the HSE has been briefed on their action plan. The HSE continues to be in close contact with Stewarts Care regarding this matter and acknowledges that the provider is working with HIQA to address all concerns raised,” said the spokesperson.

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