Belfast Telegraph

Inspectors close down care home

Twenty eight disabled people are being moved from a care home after inspectors warned over fire risks.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) revealed Our Lady's Unit, which is part of the St Patrick's Centre in Kilkenny, failed assessments on 17 out of 18 standards of care.

Fire hazards were among some of the major concerns, including no smoke alarms or detectors fitted in some areas, when inspectors from the watchdog visited the home unannounced last Monday and Tuesday.

Other concerns raised were exit doors locked and doors protected by coded key pads leaving residents unable to make their own way out in an emergency.

By last Friday, after assessing the reports, a court order was secured which will see all the adults who were housed in bungalows at the facility moved to new accommodation.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has taken control of the home following the court order.

It was operated by St Patrick's Kilkenny on a voluntary basis with most of its funding coming from the state through the HSE.

Reports on the inspections have been sent to Health Minister Leo Varadkar and junior minister in the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch who was said to be extremely concerned by the findings.

"It is of paramount importance that vulnerable residents are safe and protected in what is their own home," she said.

It is the first time Hiqa has sought a court order to de-register a care home for the disabled and shut it down.

Among the other concerns raised during the inspections were that units were not subdivided into separate compartments to improve fire resistance.

The order to de-register the care centre was made by Kilkenny District Court on Friday afternoon.

It lasts for 28 days and the court will be asked to make a final ruling on the centre and a full report from Hiqa will be published after that hearing.

Staff at the centre revealed that they had highlighted deficiencies and raised concerns with the management.

Dave Morris, an organiser with the Siptu trade union, said: "They would like to take the opportunity to stress to the families of clients that the defects in the operation of the unit that have led to its de-registration do not concern the standard of professional care offered by staff. Rather, they relate to non-adherence to fire regulations and insufficient staffing levels."

The Our Lady's Unit offered high intensity care to adults with severe intellectual disabilities.

Mr Morris added: "Siptu members who work in the unit have greeted the takeover of its management by Hiqa with an acceptance that action had to be taken to improve aspects of its operation.

"Following its takeover of the management of the unit, Hiqa immediately drafted in additional staff. It is hoped that a commitment to provide additional funds for the unit will result in renovations that will resolve the other deficiencies."


From Belfast Telegraph