Local care centre must up the ante

by Padraig Conlon
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An advocacy group for health care patients said some staff from Stewarts Care may need to “move on”.

This followed a report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) last week that said further improvements are needed in the Palmerstown-based care centre.

Commenting on these latest findings, Mervyn Taylor from Sage Advocacy said that while the level of progress is “genuinely encouraging” recruitment may need a revamp.

“Major changes in attitudes and approaches are required among those supporting and working with people with intellectual disabilities and, for some staff, the changes may not always be possible,” he said in a statement released to Dublin Gazette.

“In such circumstances it might be useful to provide a fund to assist people to move on and allow those with fresh ideas and enthusiasm to move forward.

“Institutions can institutionalise not just the residents but also the staff.”

A voluntary-run organisation, Stewarts Care provides community-based services to people with an intellectual disability.

The health and social services watchdog had revealed some alarming findings.

In 2017 and 2018 up to 16 announced and unannounced inspections were carried out by HIQA in eight designated centres operated by Stewarts Care.

On those visits social inspectors found that residents living in centres operated by Stewarts Care had “a poor quality of life, were not being adequately safeguarded and were not being provided with a quality of service that they were entitled to.”

Additionally, Stewarts Care had failed to “address the areas of non-compliance in an effective way that improved life for all residents in the centres.”

Following that report HIQA proposed to cancel Stewarts Care registration.

Over the following months Stewarts Care outlined its plans to improve services.

As per those plans, Stewarts Care agreed to provide HIQA with monthly updates, monthly meetings would be held with inspectors and announced and unannounced inspections would be carried out.

The latest report, which was released last week, showed that many improvements have been made in the “safety and quality of life for many residents.”

However, HIQA found this to not be consistent in all centres and further progress and improvement was required to ensure all residents were provided with high-quality and safe services.

Commenting on the latest HIQA report, a spokesperson for Stewarts Care said:

“The conditions described in those reports were not acceptable and the governance and management systems which pertained at the outset of this period (pre-2107) were not capable of addressing the shortcomings.

“Although the scale and complexity of services means that change can be difficult, and slow, the Board accepted fully its responsibility to resolve the issues of non-compliance highlighted by HIQA’s work.

“The overview report, while flagging the issues originally reported in 2017, notes that in the second half of 2018 a series of unannounced inspections by HIQA found that improvements noted in earlier 2018 inspections, compared to those from 2017, were being sustained and further improvements were being achieved.”

The spokesperson said Stewarts Care would not be commenting on Mervyn Taylor’s statement.

They also confirmed the board had applied to HIQA for the registration of its newly reconfigured Designated Centres in Palmerstown.

HIQA said they “will continue to maintain regulatory oversight across services provided by Stewarts Care Limited to ensure that improvements are sustained, and to promote ongoing improvement for residents in these services and their families.”

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