Áras Attracta faces closure over failings

HSE has failed to address major issues
  • Deborah Condon

A care home for people with disabilities in Mayo, which was the subject of a controversial Prime Time programme in 2014, has made little improvement since then and faces losing its registration, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has said.

In December 2014, an episode of RTE's Prime Time showed residents in one unit of Áras Attracta in Swinford being physically abused, shouted at, force-fed and humiliated.

The centre offers residential respite and day care services to adults with intellectual disabilities. Following the television programme, the HSE described the attitudes and behaviour of some staff as ‘totally unacceptable' and it apologised unreservedly to the residents concerned and their families ‘for any distress experienced at any time in relation to poor standards of care provided to them'.

However, HIQA has now published an overview report of monitoring activity it undertook between 2015 and 2017, and while some changes have been made, ‘the chief inspector has found limited progress and improvement overall on the campus'.

"Over the course of 14 inspections from July 2015 to May 2017, HIQA found that the HSE was consistently failing to appropriately address the institutional model of care, centralised care practices, safeguarding issues and lack of opportunities for residents' personal development and growth on the campus," the authority said.

During the last inspection in May 2017, inspectors found ‘that the provider's governance and management systems in the centre were ineffective and had not ensured that failings identified from the previous inspection had been addressed'.

"Inspectors found that 18 of the 21 provider's actions identified in response to the previous inspection had not been completed. This meant that while the provider had maintained some aspects of the improvements found during the previous inspection, there continued to be significant variation in the provision and quality of service to residents in different bungalows within this centre," the inspection report noted.

The inspectors said that by May 2017, most residents were still experiencing an institutional model of care, with ‘limited or no opportunities for personal development and growth'.

Furthermore, despite significant additional resources being allocated to the facility, the inspectors found that the HSE had ‘failed to show the effectiveness' of these resources.

Overall, HIQA found that Áras Attracta had failed to:
-Improve the lives of all residents living there
-Implement action plans within the required timelines
-Respond to a significant number of occurrences and reports of alleged abuse between residents
-Appropriately investigate and respond to concerns
-Consult with residents before making decisions impacting on those residents' personal finances.

In late September, the Office of Chief Inspector of Social Services issued the registered provider, which is the HSE, with notices of HIQA's proposed decision to cancel the registration of all three Áras Attracta centres.

The HSE was given 28 days to make written representations to the chief inspector before a final decision to cancel the registration of all three Áras Attracta centres would be made.

These representations, received on October 31, set out the actions ‘that are now being taken by the provider to ensure that the care and support to residents in Áras Attracta is improved'.

"The chief inspector has given consideration to these proposed actions and will schedule an unannounced inspection of the centres to verify whether these actions have been effective in making life better for residents who live in Áras Attracta.

"HIQA will use the findings from these inspections to inform a final decision on the registration of the centres by February 2018," the authority said.

The inspection reports can be viewed on the HIQA website here.


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