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HIQA report on special care unit “shocking to the extreme” – McLellan

1 September, 2015

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Sandra McLellan TD, has described a report published yesterday by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) as “distressing” and “shocking to the extreme”.

Deputy McLellan said:

“This report which focuses on the Ballydowd Special Care Unit in Lucan, the largest special care unit in Ireland, has found serious and distressing practices occurring in the unit. It was found that in the unit, children have been locked into their rooms with some forced to urinate on the floor.  

“The Special Care Unit cares for children aged between 11-17 who are deemed a high risk of posing a danger to themselves and others. These are highly vulnerable children with a litany of emotional and psychological problems, leading to disruptive behaviour. It is shocking to the extreme that they are being treated in this manner.

“Children who are in need of care, and deserve to be nurtured and treated with dignity. Single separation should only be used as a last resort and for very short periods of time It was found for example that three children were locked in a room for periods of over 24 hours. This is just unacceptable. There are grave consequences for growing children if even their basic physical needs such as fresh air or exercise aren’t met, not to mention their mental and emotional needs.

“The report’s recommendations must be taken on board immediately. I also urge that another follow-up inspection be carried out promptly. There is too much at stake here with these vulnerable young lives so dependent on those who are in charge of their care.”

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