Residents at a west Dublin care centre for people with intellectual disabilities experienced “potential institutional abuse”, according to a report published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).
The report, published on Wednesday, found that service providers at Liffey 4, Tallaght, often failed to act when safeguarding risks were identified at the centre.
While the level of care and assistance provided by staff at the centre — which is run by St John of God Community Services — was “of a good standard”, service-users were “experiencing considerable stress and fear” as a result of abusive incidents between residents, the report found.
Incident reports recorded at centre detailed physical assaults — “such as being punched, kicked, hit and hair being pulled” — on service users.
Other reports detail verbally abusive incidents at the centre.
These incidents resulted in residents engaging in “self-injurous” behaviour, compounding safeguarding and welfare issues. Victims of abuse often withdrew to bedrooms: “Residents did not feel safe in communal areas”, the Hiqa report noted.
One resident told the Hiqa inspector that “the staff were very nice and tried to help, but the incidents kept occurring”.
These incidents occurred despite the existence of numerous communication channels, oversight arrangements and reporting mechanisms. Internal audits of the centre also failed to meet the needs of residents, the report noted.
“This ultimately demonstrated the provider’s failure to protect residents and raised concerns regarding their fitness as a provider.”
Incompatibility between residents was compounded by staffing shortages at the Liffey 4 centre, the report found.
“At the time of the inspection, the house was operating with a number of relief staff due to two long-term staff vacancies not filled.
“As a result, there was an impact on the continuity of care and support for residents due to the centre’s reliance on relief staff to supplement the staff duty rosters.”
Hiqa conducted an unannounced inspection of one of two community houses at Liffey 4, which had six residents at the time, on November 3rd 2022. The house inspected had three residents.
As a result of the serious failings documented, the Hiqa inspector took the “unusual step” of immediately issuing a compliance plan “requiring the provider to put immediate and urgent actions in place to ensure the safeguarding and protection of residents living in the centre.”