A Donegal family who have a sister in a care facility in the county which was heavily criticised for a range of deficiencies in a report by a health watchdog, say they now wonder if the centre is a safe environment.
A report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) found serious failings in the governance and management of Ard Greine Court, a centre for people with disabilities in Stranorlar.
The centre, which was formerly the Sean O’Hare Unit, was subject to two inspections earlier this year - one in March and then a follow-up in May, after the first visit by inspectors revealed a litany of major non-compliances with national standards.
The breaches included several allegations of abuse that had not been appropriately reported; inadequate training in fire safety and the protection of vulnerable adults; residents’ money going missing; a lack of safeguards to mitigate the risk of injuries to residents associated with falls; and that healthcare needs of residents were not attended to in a timely manner.
The McMenamin family in Letterkenny have said that they are angry that they are “confronted with major fears about the safety and standards of care in the setting”.
Eddie McMenamin, Aisling Duffy, Martin McMenamin, Karen Hegney, and Mary McMenamin- Doherty, issued the letter following the publication of the two reports which were published at the end of August.
“The criticisms we have elicited are not borne of malice or vexation, but of genuine concern for our very vulnerable sister,” the family said. “ It is also doubly difficult to vent our concerns as there are three of us who are, or have recently worked in the HSE, and know all too well of the significant challenges that are faced by all facets of the services on a daily basis. However, regardless of resource limitations and any negative external forces, do not excuse unsafe care to vulnerable adults.”
The family said that the Intellectual Disability Service In Donegal needs to “stop denying that the service falls short of modern standards”.
“Yes it has come a long way, but not far enough to sit on its laurels. Rather it should embrace the recommendations proffered in meeting safer better care standards set out by the regulatory authorities. But they should not stop there, they should seize the opportunity for new developments and practices that will create a service in which people are enable to fully achieve their life goals.”
The McMenamins said they intend to hold the local service to account in implementing the necessary changes in support of the recommendations of HIQA.
“Thankfully our parents are not alive to relive their previous concerns for their daughter and experience the disappointment the HIQA report paints of the current service. Our family’s lifetime of seeking reassurance about our sisters care is set to continue, coupled inevitably with more sleepless nights.”
The (Health Service Executive) HSE said at the time of publication of the reports that an action plan is being implemented under the direction of a newly appointed Acting Service Manager of Intellectual Disability Services in Donegal.
Jacinta Lyons, Acting Service Manager of Intellectual Disability Services in Donegal, stated: “I am working closely with management and staff at Ard Greine to ensure that all the concerns identified by HIQA are addressed with robust governance, quality and safety arrangements. The safeguarding of residents is our number one priority. We will continue to improve and develop services, to learn from mistakes and promote the best possible quality of life for each resident”.
In a response to the concerns expressed in the letter, the HSE said it accepted the findings of the Hiqa reports with regards to inspections of disability services at Ard Greine Court.
“We acknowledge the concerns of family members and realise that these reports make for difficult reading,” the HSE said in a statement.
“We are working hard to address these concerns. We have implemented a service improvement programme at Ard Greine in response to these inspections.
We are happy to meet with the family to discuss their concerns.”