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Medicalindependent.ie is Ireland's only investigative medical news website for doctors, healthcare professionals and anyone with an interest in health issues.

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People’s homes ‘turned into mini institutions’

By Dermot - 29th Apr 2020 | 7 views

It is “very frightening” to see the homes of people with a disability turned into “mini institutions”, HSE Confidential Recipient for Vulnerable Persons Ms Leigh Gath told CEO Mr Paul Reid in December.

In a candidly-written email, obtained by the Medical Independent under Freedom of Information law, Ms Gath expressed concern about the level of investment in disability services and the subsequent standard of care and support.

She stated her belief that “the disability community is perhaps being disproportionately selected for cost savings”.

Ms Gath informed Mr Reid it was “very frightening to see people’s homes being turned into mini institutions, where the person only receives enough supports to allow them to get out of bed (at a time that suits an agency), washed, dressed and maybe fed — and put back to bed before 8pm to save money.”

However, these people were the ‘lucky ones’, according to Ms Gath, who said her understanding was that hundreds of people were on waiting lists for services. Many were cared for by parents or family members “who are almost too old to look after themselves”.

She added that the waiting list for a wheelchair could be up to 18 months. “For someone not to be able to move independently for that time is like punishing someone for having a disability.”

Ms Gath also informed the HSE CEO that staff in social care, especially those on the ground, were doing “amazing work”.

Other correspondence to managers in the HSE revealed ongoing concerns about the care and treatment of vulnerable people, including those in residential care. 

In addition, Ms Gath raised the issue of people with a disability, autism and acquired brain injury living in inappropriate settings, including hospitals and nursing homes.

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