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“Must our voiceless in care depend on whistle-blowers?” Ó Caoláin

9 December, 2014 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has today raised the distressing issues surrounding substandard care in a particular unit of the Áras Attracta Care Home in Swinford, County Mayo to be reported on tonight by RTÉ’s Primetime. The care home is now being investigated by the HSE, HIQA and An Garda Síochána, and nine staff have been suspended without prejudice after complaints were relayed to the HSE.

Questioning an Taoiseach Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Must our voiceless in care depend on whistle-blowers, unannounced HIQA inspections and RTE's Prime Time programme to expose the wholly unacceptable behaviour of some who work in our care homes and facilities? 

“I know at first hand the great work that so many employed in these settings perform.  I have a brother with an intellectual disability in a HSE care home.  This drip, drip exposé of dreadful behaviour by some must also deeply hurt those who are true carers in these settings.

 “For all concerned - but especially for those who cannot speak for themselves, like my brother - this behaviour must be rooted out once and for all.  In the case of Áras Attracta, HIQA had inspected, made recommendations, returned and felt that all had been addressed.  These inspections are not enough and we cannot depend on them alone. 

 “I ask the Taoiseach what real steps are he and his Government colleagues, and the HSE, going to take to ensure that this particular problem - that presents time after time, in one incident after another - is substantively addressed once and for all?

 Deputy Ó Caoláin continued:

“This is not only about Áras Attracta.  This is not an isolated incident. There has been a range of other settings exposed for malpractice over these years.  The critical matter is not just the address of the individual care home setting. There is a need for a root-and-branch re-examination of the level of training, management and oversight right across the board.  That is what is required.  As I have stated, I do not accept that everything is being done; real steps must now be taken.

“I noted the commentary of Mr. Tony O'Brien, the Director General of the HSE, with regard to wider use of undercover surveillance but that is such a reactive step under the assumption that things are wrong.  We must take the required steps in order to help ensure the highest standards are understood in the first instance and implemented by those we trust to look after those defenceless loved ones in our respective families.  My brother is non-verbal and I can understand what was said earlier today by the sibling of one of those who will be most particularly focused upon in tonight's programme.  These people are incapable of voicing or giving expression on whatever treatment they are being subjected to. The uncertainty causes great fear for families, especially for parents and siblings.

 “We must examine care settings right across the board and instill through retraining and uptraining the highest standards in the first instance in management and oversight in every care setting in the land.  Will the Taoiseach take that on board?” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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