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1,800 tip-offs of people with disabilities abused in care

  • 18 Jul 2016

The health watchdog Hiqa noted more than 1,800 notifications last year claiming that people with disabilities were being abused in care.

17th July 2016

Maeve Sheehan, Sunday Independent

They include 72 notifications about children who were the victims of suspected or confirmed abuse while in care centres for disabilities.

Hiqa was also "concerned" about nine notifications about "unauthorised absences" of extremely vulnerable children from centres. In five cases the children's absences was for a short period of time but Hiqa took regulatory action where it was not satisfied. The report said all relevant allegations were reported to the child and family agency, Tusla. The figures were contained in a report by the Health Information & Quality Authority which was published last week.

They will add to concerns raised last week in a separate leaked report that revealed that hundreds of vulnerable adults were at serious risk because of the failure to properly monitor care services.

Finian McGrath, the Minister of State responsible for disability, will meet the Health Service Executive tomorrow to discuss the report which he said has left him "appalled".

The leaked internal HSE report - written by a senior social worker - said the HSE had no files on 200 adults with intellectual disabilities who were in State care, leaving them at risk of abuse.

Hiqa's first overview of its inspections of Designated Centres for Adults and Children with Disabilities found the level of notifications raising concerns about children had increased since 2014.

The report said this was because of a "greater awareness" by service providers of their obligations to report incidents to them. Of the 72 child abuse notifications, 29 were made by relatives, 19 were by care staff and 17 were made by children. In seven cases the alleged abuser was not known.

In total, the authority carried out 741 inspections at 561 disability centres in 2015, but only 49 inspections resulted in a clean bill of health for the facility.

The report said most centres provided "a good quality service".

Hiqa started inspecting these centres for the first time in 2014.

The report notes that the inspections have led to improvements in quality of care for residents.