A care centre is being investigated by the Health Service Executive after the airing of an RTÉ documentary showing abuse of residents.
The documentary in question focused on the Áras Attracta Care Home in Swinford, Co. Mayo. It was aired on RTÉ Primetime earlier this month, and consisted of footage showing staff at the residential home kicking, slapping and restraining intellectually challenged residents.
An undercover researcher, who was posing as someone on work experience, filmed the footage after information was passed to the national broadcaster by a whistleblower. The abuse took place in Unit 3 of Áras Attracta, a small house where three women lived. The women were often constrained to chairs for hours at a time.
Before the exposé was aired, the broadcaster contacted the HSE – who are ultimately responsible for the care home – concerning the allegations and footage. The actions of the care staff were described as “totally unacceptable”, and resulted in the suspension of several staff members. The HSE has also requested the involvement of the Garda and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
Tony O’Brien, the Director General of the HSE, commented that “Much of what was viewed on Primetime falls well below the standards that we expect in the health services. Such standards should not and will not be tolerated in the HSE.” He added: “At the centre of many of these examples of poor practice is individual responsibility of staff members.”
An apology was then issued by the HSE to the residents of Unit 3 and their families. Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State of the Department of Health, commented that “I refuse to believe Áras Attracta is the only place where this is happening. We are looking at what other processes we can put in place.”
A spokesperson at the ministry for health has since stated that €1.3 million has been allocated by the HSE to ensure the allegations are investigated thoroughly.