Recent Mental Health Commission Inspection Reports highlight shortcomings in relation to staffing, nutrition, premises and seclusion

Author: Eimear Burke and Hannah Unger

September 10, 2018

On 23 August 2018, the Mental Health Commission (“MHC”) published five inspection reports into Approved Centres around the country which raised concerns about inadequate staffing, training, nutrition, premises and seclusion.

Commenting on one particular inspection report, Dr. Susan Finnerty, Inspector of Mental Health Services, said, the following:

“Extraordinarily, in one case there were restrictions to access to water and fluids. There was no free access to fresh drinking water in one of the locked areas and fluid restrictions were imposed as a punishment for challenging behaviour as part of a behavioural programme for one resident. Residents were observed banging on the window of the nurses’ station, which had closed blinds, to request a drink of water. There was no other way of attracting nursing staff attention. This was not conducive to residents’ dignity.”

All in-patient mental health services in Ireland must be registered as an ‘Approved Centre’ with the MHC and must be inspected at least once a year. During each inspection, the Approved Centre is assessed against Section 4 of the Mental Health Act 2001 (the “2001 Act”), regulations made under the 2001 Act, rules and codes of practice.

Non-compliance may result in enforcement action including: corrective and preventative action plans, an immediate action notice, a regulatory compliance meeting, registration conditions, removal from the register (closure) and prosecution.

The MHC’s Approved Centre Inspection Reports can be accessed here.

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