Wednesday, December 17, 2014

THE words of the following song, Scorn not his simplicity, portray the vulnerable and special gift that is children and adults who live with special needs.

See the child with the golden hair

Yet eyes that show the emptiness inside
Do we know
Can we understand just how he feels
Or have we really tried

See him now
As he stands alone
And watches children play at children’s games
Simple child
He looks almost like the others
Yet they know he’s not the same

Scorn not his simplicity
But rather try to love him all the more
Scorn not his simplicity
See him stare
Not recognising that kind face
That only yesterday he loved
The loving face
Of a mother who can’t understand what she’s been guilty of

How she cried tears of happiness
The day the doctor told her it’s a boy
Now she cries tears of helplessness
And thinks of all the things he can’t enjoy

Scorn not his simplicity
But rather try to love him all the more
Scorn not his simplicity
Only he knows how to face the future hopefully

Surrounded by despair
He won’t ask for your pity or your sympathy
But surely you should care

There has been widespread condemnation of allegations of abuse and poor standards of care at a centre for adults with intellectual disabilities in Co Mayo, as revealed in an RTÉ investigative report. The undercover report broadcast on Prime Time showed some residents at Áras Attracta, a care centre in Swinford, being force-fed, slapped, kicked, physically restrained and shouted at.

Gardaí, the HSE and HIQA are investigating a list of abuses and poor standards of care at the centre, which were exposed during the undercover investigation. Some staff members who are the subject of the allegations have been suspended on full pay until the investigation is concluded.

Speaking on Prime Time, junior health minister Kathleen Lynch said that she found the investigation “really very disturbing. 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.

“We have an investigation going on. We have to wait for the results to see what disciplinary action will be taken.”

She said this “is clearly not enough” and “maybe it will take putting an undercover person in place … people going in unobserved, taking a serious look at what’s goes on”.

The national director for social care at the HSE, Pat Healy, said he was “disturbed” by the report and found the content “quite upsetting”. He added that such “behaviours and practices are unacceptable. That type of behaviour has no place in the health service”.

Mr Healy accepted that the HSE is responsible for the abuse that took place at Áras Attracta: “We have failed in unit three, that’s for sure. It’s important to acknowledge that.”

Asked what the HSE’s response to the abuses in the care home would be, he said the purpose of his role was “to provide leadership and consistency of service – I’m about addressing this. We have put in new management; change is being made. There’s a cultural issue here we have to get to the bottom of.”

Mr Healy added that he had set up an independent investigation, separate from the HSE, which will address the issues raised by the investigation.

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) said it is “gravely concerned and shocked” by the footage shown in the RTÉ programme. However, DFI chief executive John Dolan welcomed “the swift response of the HSE in the establishment of a team to carry out a full investigation into the incidents that were highlighted, and hope that it comes to a timely and appropriate conclusion”.

Earlier, a former employee of Áras Attracta said he raised concerns four years ago about the impact of budget cuts on residents and staff at the centre. Noel Giblin, national secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association, worked at the centre up to a few years ago. He said cutbacks had forced the closure of some units, making it very difficult for residents and staff.

Special Needs Parents Association chairperson Lorraine Dempsey described the way in which residents were treated at unit three as a scandal. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described the allegations of abuse at the centre as “intolerable and unacceptable”.

The idea that men and women with intellectual disabilities be slapped or sat on is utterly intolerable and unacceptable,” he said.

As a country, we are only as strong as how we care for our weakest members. This shocking culture of abuse to our most vulnerable citizens is a national disgrace.

Comments are closed.

By Fr Paddy Byrne
Contact Newsdesk: +353 57 86 70216

More Time To Think

The pope’s ten steps for a happy life

Appreciating what’s done on your behalf

Easter, when ‘All is possible’