Children left "unsafe and exposed" in residential centre, HIQA finds

An inspection found the building was not suitable to create a homely atmosphere

Children left "unsafe and exposed" in residential centre, HIQA finds

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A report has found several major issues with a children's residential centre in the south of the country.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found a number of "major non-compliances" in areas such as safeguarding and child protection, premises and safety.

It said: "Managers and staff failed to deal effectively with behaviour that challenged for a period of several months.

"There was no evidence that therapeutic supports were put in place for the children who remained in the centre following a period of crisis in the centre and the discharge of another child."

It said children were left "feeling unsafe and exposed" to intimidatory behaviour for an excessively long time.

The unannounced inspection revealed the building was not suitable for the creation of a homely atmosphere for children.

HIQA found the maintenance log had not been updated since the previous inspection, while many of the centre's appliances and furniture needed to be replaced.

It also said not all staff had taken part in fire drills, while the recording of daily and weekly checks on fire equipment and means of escape was not up to date.

"A self-closing mechanism on a fire door to the sitting room was disengaged and the sitting room door was left open", HIQA said.

Vetting of staff

Another area of concern was that managers were unclear of the garda vetting status of non-Tusla staff who worked in the centre.

The report also found that children could not access the internet as there was no wi-fi available, and not all visitors signed the visitors' book

HIQA also said that protocols or procedures between the residential service and the social work department were "not sufficiently robust" to deal with urgent concerns.

"Governance systems to ensure that the service provided was safe were not adequate".

It also found that the out of hours support for staff on duty was not sufficient.

Several courses of action have been recommended - including ensuring that staff relate to young people in "an open, positive and respectful manner."

It said care practices should take account of young people’s individual needs and respect their social, cultural, religious and ethnic identity.

And that staff interventions should show an awareness of the impact on young people of separation and loss and, where applicable, neglect and abuse.