Áras Attracta review finds the centre "did not respect the residents as individuals"

The HSE has again apologised unreservedly to residents and their families

Áras Attracta review finds the centre "did not respect the residents as individuals"

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

A review of the Áras Attracta facility in Mayo has found that the home did not respect the residents as individuals.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) today published the independent report of the Áras Attracta (McCoy) Review Group.

The report says that residents at the centre for adults with intellectual disabilities suffered isolation and institutional conditioning.

"There was an assumption that the residents could not contribute and do things for themselves: they have been unable to reach their potential. The residents have had a poor quality of life, and their voices have not been heard," chair of the group, Dr Kevin McCoy, said.

It follows the broadcast of the Prime Time programme ‘Inside Bungalow 3’ by RTÉ in December 2014, which saw residents subjected to abuse.

The report includes recommendations for management, actions for the HSE at a national level, and a plan to guide all managers of congregated settings as they move towards decongregation.

File photo of the Aras Attracta facility in Swinford, Co Mayo | Image: RollingNews.ie

Dr McCoy added: "To move on from this report, services for people with intellectual disability must be person-focused and needs-based.

"It is important to not only maintain the health of people with intellectual disability, but to include them in social life and respect them as individuals.

"Services should be provided in the community, rather than in isolation. This is now well-understood."

Dr McCoy told the Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk the facility had become isolated from modern developments.

However, he said the overall system is really to blame:

The HSE said it has started the delivery of key infrastructural changes that are recommended by the review.

"However, at a national level, while policy favours support for people with intellectual disabilities in the community, the pace of change is still too slow," it said.

'Profound effect on staff'

Welcoming the findings, the HSE national director of social care Pat Healy said: "I wish again to apologise unreservedly to the residents of Áras Attracta and their families for the manner in which they were treated.

"I want to thank Dr McCoy and the members of his Review Group for their work in producing this set of reports.

"Their recommendations support our vision for Áras Attracta, and for other residential disability services nationally, which is to move to community living, supporting people with disabilities to live lives of their choosing, to decide where they live, who they live with and how they spend their time."

The report also notes: "The events in Bungalow 3 and the attendant publicity have had a profound effect on staff.

"They were shocked, horrified and embarrassed about what happened, and many also felt hurt, angry and ashamed.

"Overall, staff were highly critical of many aspects of the service, some of which were historical and others related to more recent developments."

File photo of the Aras Attracta facility in Swinford, Co Mayo | Image: RollingNews.ie

The HSE’s response to the report is grouped under three main headings:

Transition to community living

The HSE has been moving steadily towards a community based model of support for the residents.

This is guided by the national report ‘Time to Move on from Congregated Settings’ - whose core recommendation is that people living in congregated settings should be supported to live in the community with appropriate supports.

A roadmap for Áras Attracta, published today, outlines how the HSE will enable residents to make this transition to community living.

The HSE says this roadmap will facilitate further consultation and discussion with service users, residents, their families and advocates, staff and other key stakeholders about how the HSE’s vision for Áras Attracta will be implemented.

Voice of the Residents

With the support of Inclusion Ireland, a Family Forum has been established in Áras Attracta and in a number of other residential settings to ensure the voice of service users, their families and advocates are included in all that they do.

CEO of Inclusion Ireland Paddy Connolly said: "Inclusion Ireland will help build the capacity of staff and residents to ensure the voices of the residents are heard. We will also support families of residents to engage with management and staff regarding the future provision of services at Áras Attracta."

Governance, Leadership and Management

An important recommendation emerging from the review group was the change in management and governance structures at Áras Attracta.

In 2015, a new director of services was appointed to manage day-to-day operations and oversee the ongoing change programme.

Áras Attracta was reorganised into three designated centres, each with a centre manager, with services tailored specifically for residents’ needs.