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Two critical and six high risk ratings at Ennis Acute Psychiatric Unit

THE Mental Health Commission (MHC) has reported concerns around the privacy and dignity of residents following the publication of an announced inspection report regarding the acute psychiatric unit in Ennis.

“The inspection team found that the presence of security personnel in one centre when they were not required and without due cause was deemed a breach of resident dignity,” said the Inspector of Mental Health Services, Dr Susan Finnerty. “With security personnel walking freely through the centre when they are clearly not required, residents may understandably feel that staff and management believe residents to be a threat to staff and other residents on a continuing and ongoing basis. Having security personnel visible to residents is not acceptable and is an affront to their dignity and privacy.”

The Acute Psychiatric Unit at Ennis General Hospital had a total of 39 beds at the time of inspection, with five beds designated to psychiatry of later life.

The centre achieved 64% compliance on the inspection – a decrease of 10% compared to its 2019 inspection – with 12 non-compliances recorded, including two critical and six high risk ratings. There were three conditions attached to the registration of the centre at the time of inspection. It was found not to be in breach of any of the conditions – related to staffing, the maintenance of records, and premises – although it was found to be non-compliant with the associated regulation on premises.

One of the critical risk ratings related to privacy. The inspection team noted that the centre employed security personnel for the purposes of assisting staff in physical restraint, if requested. It was also noted that the security personnel were on site during the inspection and one security person was observed walking the corridors and sitting in a communal area. Staff reported that security staff also waited outside the dining room at mealtimes and this was reported to be standard practice within the centre. The report found that the presence of security personnel when not required and without due cause was a breach of resident dignity.

The other critical risk rating was on the regulation for residents’ personal property and possessions as it was noted during inspection that the centre did not ensure that an accurate record was maintained of one resident’s personal property and possessions. In relation to the resident, stored money, cash transactions and balances were not always accurately recorded on account documents.

The MHC followed up on these areas of critical risk including issuing an immediate action notice in respect of the use of security staff in the approved centre.