The mistreatment of care home residents at a County Mayo care centre is being investigated by the Health Service Executive after claims of abuse were made in an RTÉ documentary.
The documentary concerning the standards of care at the Áras Attracta care centre in Swinford, County Mayo, was broadcast last week on RTÉ´s Primetime program. The documentary was built around video footage which had been recorded by an undercover investigator, and which showed staff at the centre slapping, kicking, and physically restraining residents with intellectual disabilities.
Allegations of the mistreatment of the care home residents had been brought to the attention of RTÉ by a former employee after her complaints to the centre´s management were unresolved. The undercover investigator filmed the mistreated of care home residents in Unit Three of Áras Attracta – a bungalow that is home to three women – which included the women being force-fed, abused and restrained in their chairs for hours at a time.
RTÉ contacted the Health Service Executive (HSE) prior to the broadcast of the program to advise the body ultimately responsible for the standard of care at the centre of what was to be shown. A spokesperson for the HSE described the mistreatment of care home residents as “totally unacceptable” and immediately launched an investigation.
The director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, said in a statement: “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.” Several staff have subsequently been suspended, and the HSE has informed the Gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of the lack of care at Áras Attracta.
The HSE also apologised to the residents of Áras Attracta and their families for the mistreatment of care home residents that had taken place. The apology stated that the HSE did not wish to “pre-empt the findings of an independent investigation” but that it has taken several immediate actions to “guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Unit Three”.