Children’s services publication statement 5 December 2017

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published two inspection reports on Coovagh House and Gleann Alainn special care units. The purpose of special care units is to provide a short-term period of care in a safe and secure environment.

HIQA is authorised by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs under Section 69 (2) of the Child Care Act, 1991 as amended by the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011 to inspect children's special care services provided by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla). Inspectors monitor special care units against the National Standards for Children's Special Care Units and reports on its findings to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

In an unannounced inspection on 12 to 13 July 2017, inspectors found that not all children were safe while living in the Coovagh House special care unit. Some children had absconded from the unit and placed themselves at significant risk. While meetings were held to address these risks, decisions taken at these meetings were not always effective at reducing risk for some children who continued to abscond and place themselves at significant risk. The unit had been operating without a dedicated unit manager and supporting management team for a significant period of time, which had resulted in deficiencies across a number of systems in the unit. Similar to findings from the 2016 HIQA inspection, the living environment was not fit for the purpose of providing safe and effective care. In particular, a door on a child’s room had not been replaced in over six months and, consequently, their privacy and dignity could not be fully maintained as a result. While staff in the unit were dedicated, skilled, experienced and had the competencies to provide care, they were not sufficiently supported, supervised and provided with up-to-date and necessary training.

During an unannounced inspection at Gleann Alainn on 19 to 20 July 2017, inspectors observed that staff treated children with respect and presented as dedicated and committed to the care of the children. However, as highlighted in previous inspection reports, the building is unsuitable for use as a special care unit and the environment was not homely or stimulating for children. The unsuitability of the building also made it difficult for staff to manage behaviour that was challenging. Furthermore, improvements were required in supervision and training, in ensuring that all staff were qualified, and in ensuring that staff files contained all required documents and information.

The services have prepared action plans to address the non-compliances identified on inspection.