Undercover Áras Attracta probe for Tuesday broadcast

By Frances Toner

Áras Attracta in Swinford is at the centre of a major HSE investigation. Photo via Google StreetView.

Áras Attracta in Swinford is at the centre of a major HSE investigation. Photo via Google StreetView.

A top inspector, who previously worked on the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse in Ireland in the early 2000s, is to head up the review of services at Áras Attracta in Swinford.

Meanwhile, RTÉ is to broadcast its special investigation, which included an undercover researcher being placed in Áras Attracta for three weeks, on Tuesday evening.

The footage from the RTÉ investigation is being handed over to An Garda Siochana.

The HSE confirmed this week that it is investigating serious allegations of mistreatment at the residential service for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Allegations include slapping and force feeding of vulnerable adults and the HSE has confirmed that a number of staff members, against whom the allegations were made, have been put off duty.

The HSE has launched two seperate investigations, both led by independent experts.

The investigation into the complaints themselves is led by Christy Lynch, CEO of Kildare disability organisation Kare.

Seperately, a review of services in general at Aras Attracta will be led by Dr Kevin McCoy CBE

Dr McCoy is a former senior social work adviser at the Department of Health and Social Services and a former social services chief inspector.

He also worked as a commissioner on the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse from 2000 to 2003.

The remaining review team members have yet to be finalised.

The HSE said it has already taken a number of immediate and objective actions at the facilitiy.

“The most immediate priority has been to guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Aras Attracta,” reads a HSE statement on the matter.

The HSE also advised that local managers are working with families and the residents to “provide information and reassurance at this difficult time”.

RTÉ said its undercover researcher uncovered evidence of a resident being force fed, repeated incidents of residents being shouted at, and manhandling, pushing, shoving, and slapping of residents.

“The programme will demonstrate several very serious examples of substandard care in one particular unit, the most serious of which have been described as ‘abusive’ by experts who have seen the footage,” said a spokesperson for RTÉ

The spokesperson said that while there were some examples of good care seen in one unit where their undercover reporter was positioned “these were outweighed by failings that gave rise to serious concern.”

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