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02nd Oct 2017

Several ‘major non-compliances’ in children’s residential centre

Louise Carroll

An unannounced inspection by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found “major non-compliances” during an inspection of the building in the south of the country.

When it came to safeguarding, child protection and safety within the premise, several issues were recognised.

Children did not have access to the internet as there was no Wi-Fi available. They also felt “unsafe and exposed” due to intimidating behaviour over an extended period of time.

The report also pointed out that “managers and staff failed to deal effectively with behaviour that challenged for a period of several months.”

There was zero evidence of therapeutic supports for children in the aftermath of a crisis in the centre or after the discharge of another child.

The building itself was reported to be unsuitable for the creation of a homely and suitable atmosphere for children. Much of the furniture was in need of replacing and the maintenance log wasn’t updated since the last inspection.

Staff were found to not have undertaken fire drills and weekly checks on fire equipment and the means of escape should a fire ever occur was not up-to-date.

Managers were also found to be unsure of the vetting status of non-Tusla employees and when visitors came, not all signed the visitors book.

Several courses of action have been recommended by HIQA – one being to ensure staff converse with children in an “open, positive and respectful manner,” while taking care to respect their social, cultural and ethnic identity.

It’s also advised staff should be aware of the impact that separation, loss, neglect and abuse can have on a young person’s life and mental health.

According to Tusla;

“Children’s Residential Services aim to provide a physically, emotionally and psychologically safe space in which children and young people can heal, develop and move forward in their lives.”