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Mental Health unit residents’ money used to fill shortfalls


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Mental Health unit residents’ money used to fill shortfalls Mental Health unit residents’ money used to fill shortfalls

From the Galway City Tribune – Scant regard was being shown for the safekeeping of residents’ property at a city mental health unit, according to a damning report from the Mental Health Commission.

The Commission identified a ‘critical risk’ at the HSE-run Woodview Mental Health Centre in Merlin Park where an inspection team found monies that were supposed to be safeguarded by the centre were being borrowed from to fill shortfalls in other residents’ money.

This was found to have been done without the permission of the residents affected, while the inspectors also found that secure facilities were not provided for the safekeeping of residents’ money.

Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly, said this amounted to an unacceptable and serious breach of regulations.

“Some residents were unaware that their money was being used for other purposes and this is a clear and serious breach of the regulation on personal property and possessions.

“It is unacceptable to take advantage of residents in this way. It is a clear denial of a basic human right. For this non-compliance, we had no choice but to impose a critical risk rating. Since the inspection, we have been assured that the centre that the money has been returned and improved arrangements are now in place to safeguard residents’ property.

However, we will continue to require assurances from the centre in this regard,” said Mr Farrelly.

The Commission, which is an independent statutory body, has been provided with these assurances as well as confirmation that arrangements have been put in place to notify An Garda Síochána, as appropriate, should any future concerns be identified.

Woodview, a single-storey mental health facility on the campus of Merlin Park University Hospital, is described as providing continuing mental health care to an ageing cohort, most of whom have been at the centre for a number of years.

The centre also provides mental health rehabilitation and recovery for residents awaiting community rehabilitation placements.

In addition to the critical risk, a number of high-risk items were found, one of which was non-compliance with the regulation on care planning as two care plans had not been developed by the multi-disciplinary team within seven days of admission.

Two other care plans failed to identify appropriate goals for residents, and one plan had not been reviewed by the multi-disciplinary team.

A high-risk rating was applied to the regulation on therapeutic services and programmes for several reasons, including that the services and programmes provided by Woodview were not appropriate and did not meet the needs of the residents.

Another high-risk rating was put on the premises where dangers were identified due to the lack of safeguards on radiators; the outside area was littered with cigarette butts, rubbish, a walking aid, and a sweeping brush.

It was found that high-risk ligature points were not being minimised to the lowest practicable level and hazards were not minimised – fire doors were kept open with stoppers and a chair.

“The inspection team also identified a number of quality initiatives on inspection,” states the report.

Among these was a model of residents and staff working collaboratively to improve safety, the provision of support to residents to personalise their bedrooms and painting of the main dining room to create a more homely feel.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, October 7. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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