Watchdog concerned about disability centre taking money out of resident's bank account

Inspectors find lack of safeguards to protect disabled people in residential centres from abuse

Watchdog concerned about disability centre taking money out of resident's bank account

File photo: RollingNews.ie

The health watchdog has criticised a disability service provider with residential facilities nationwide for failing to protect residents from abuse.

Inspections by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) also identified "major concerns" with health and safety at three centres run by the Camphill Communities of Ireland in Kildare and Kilkenny.  

It was discovered during an announced visit to one facility in Kilkenny that a considerable sum of money had been removed from a resident’s bank account in 2009 as a "contribution".

HIQA was informed that this was done in agreement with a person in an informal role of responsibility for the resident, who was deemed to be unable to give consent.

The provider sought advice in late 2015 as to whether a legal agreement should be entered into and was advised that it was not in its interests to do so.

An arrangement was made to return the money in instalments over a three-year period. HIQA was told after the inspection that it had been repaid in full. 

Inspectors also expressed concern about the potential impact of restrictive practices on residents’ safety and privacy.

Keypad-locked doors, door sensors and audio listening devices were all used to manage residents.

One resident’s bedroom door was found to have been locked at night without any risk assessment. The practice has since been stopped.

No guidance

An announced inspection of another disability facility operated by the Camphill Communities in Kilkenny identified problems with the way in which residents accessed their bank accounts.

Most required staff support to manage their money, but inspectors found that no guidance was given to staff members about withdrawal limits or what items could be purchased.

A report drawn up by HIQA said this was "especially pertinent" to a number of residents for whom the provider was acting as a de-facto guardian.

There was also a lack of clarity as to who was authorised to approve spending for a resident who was a ward of court.

While no evidence of any irregular activity was found, it was concluded that this lack of oversight put residents at potential risk of financial abuse.

Inspectors also that staff assigned to oversee safeguarding had not been trained in child welfare guidelines since 2011.

Concerns about a lack of safeguarding measures were also raised during an announced inspection of a centre run by the same provider in Kildare.

There was a policy in place on preventing and responding to abuse, but HIQA found it did “not accurately guide” staff on reporting procedures and was not in line with HSE guidelines.

However, staff members were found to be knowledgeable about handling suspected abuse and also respectful in their treatment of the 11 residents.

HIQA inspections also highlighted a number of concerns about the management of disability services run by the Daughters of Charity, Western Care Association, Praxis Care and for Nua Healthcare.

The latest raft of reports can be found at hiqa.ie.