Pearse Doherty, TD
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin TD, has welcomed confirmation from the HSE that measures and actions have been introduced at Ard Gréine Court in Stranorlar to address a recent HIQA report that found serious failings in the governance and management of the centre, which cares for adults with intellectual disabilities.
In response to a parliamentary question Deputy Doherty tabled, the HSE stated it has taken a number of steps aimed at service improvements at Ar Gréine, formerly the Sean O’Hare unit in Stranorlar. The measures include additional staff training, random spot checks, reviewing centre practices in response to resident behaviour and new control measures to minimise patient risk.
“The publication in August of the latest HIQA inspection into services at Ard Gréine Court raised a number of very serious questions surrounding practices at the unit which inspectors felt posed a genuine risk to the welfare and safety of residents and staff there,” Deputy Doherty said. He said the report identified failings in centre government and management, deficits and gaps in staff training and incidents of non-compliance with respect to national protocols and guidelines.
The deputy said he has been provided with an update of measures taken by the HSE to address issues arising from the report.
“Amongst them, the HSE has stated that all staff in the centre have received safeguarding awareness training, and safeguarding continues to be discussed at all monthly staff meetings,” Deputy Doherty said. “Random spot checks are also being conducted by clinical nurse managers in accordance with HIQA sample interview questions which are designed to ensure that staff are aware of the procedures to be followed in the event of an allegation or suspicion of abuse.
“Additionally, a multidisciplinary team review into behaviour support plans and restrictive practices has been carried out and an agreed protocol has been implemented based on clinical criteria for the prescribing of restrictive practices in response to situations where a resident’s behaviour warrants intervention,” he said.
The deputy said a psychologist has completed assessments of each service user who requires behavioural support management, while all staff have undergone training on managing behaviour of concern at the centre.
“I understand that a HSE Risk Manager has carried out a review of the operational clinical and environmental risks at Ard Gréine Court in Stranorlar, and a number of control measures have been identified in order to minimise patient risk,” Deputy Doherty said. He said an internal audit system is in place to monitor the use of prescribed medication, with an independent audit now begun in the wider Donegal intellectual disability service.
“Of course these improvements are to be welcomed, and the measures outlined by the HSE show a clear commitment on the part of the centre’s staff and care teams to address the failing identified by HIQA earlier this year and ultimately to deliver a safe and effective service to residents at the facility,” Deputy Doherty said.
“Therefore it’s only right that the professionalism of the staff working at Ard Gréine Court is applauded and that they are praised and recognised for their efforts to deliver these vital improvements to ensure the comfort and safety of patients, staff and visitors to the unit both now and into the future,” he said.