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RTE Documentary Reveals “Sickening” Abuse at Care Home

An RTÉ documentary about the “sickening” abuse of residents at care home has recently been aired.

A recently aired RTÉ documentary entitled “Inside Bungalow Three” has revealed serious cases of care home negligence at a home for intellectually disabled people. The programme showed scenes of care workers at Áras Attracta care home in Swinford, County Mayo subjecting the patients under their care to physical and psychological abuse. The footage was filmed by an undercover reporter. A former employee of the centre alerted RTÉ to the negligence they witnessed. The former employee-who prefers to remain anonymous-claims that their concerns to upper management had been disregarded.

The undercover reporter had posed as a work experience student to gain access to the facility. They were placed in “Bungalow Three”, which acted as  a home to three intellectually disabled women. She witnessed the shocking treatment of the residents, which included slapping, kicking and force-feeding. The documentary shows one resident is denied use of the bathroom, while another resident-a 75-year-old woman-is kept seated in the same position for six hours.

The care home negligence broadcast in the documentary attracted widespread attention. Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the abuse shown in the documentary as “sickening”, while Tony O´Brien – the Director General of the HSE – commented that the level of care was totally unacceptable and fell well below “the standards that we expect in the health services”.

Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch, has publicly stated that she refused to believe that “Áras Attracta is the only place where this is happening”. Lorraine Dempsey from the Special Needs Parents Association added “Absolute responsibility in any setting goes right up to the top level of management, and in this case we are talking about the HSE”.

The HSE has launched two investigations into the care home negligence at Áras Attracta. The first investigation is focusing on the specific mistreatment of residents portrayed in the documentary and the second on the care home for the intellectually disabled in general. The Gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) have also launched their own investigations into potential criminal activity.

Tony O´Brien apologised to the residents and their families on behalf of the HSE for the care home negligence. He said that the HSE did not wish to “pre-empt the findings of an independent investigation” but that the HSE has taken immediate actions to “guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Bungalow Three”. Since the documentary has been aired, nine staff have been suspended while the investigations into the care home negligence are conducted.

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