Fire safety issues found in some State centres for disability care

Hiqa finds poor measures to protect residents and poor governance in some of the State centres

Fire safety issues and poor measures to protect residents have been identified in some of the State’s centres for disability care, according to recent inspection reports from the healthcare regulator Hiqa.

Poor governance was identified at three centres operated by Sunbeam House Services, including one centre in Co Wicklow where improvements were required around the use of restrictive practices, which are a procedure including physical, chemical or environmental restraint.

“Improvements were required in a number of areas, including fire safety, infection prevention and control, the premises, positive behaviour support, use of restrictive practices, and the provider’s monitoring of the centre,” the report stated.

The inspector observed “some poor fire safety precautions, for example, the fire evacuation plan was not specific to the centre, and a fire door was wedged open which comprised its purpose”.


“There were also poor infection prevention measures,” it said, citing an absence of appropriate equipment to reduce the risk of infection cross contamination.

At another centre in Co Wicklow, operated by Sunbeam, there was “poor upkeep” of the premises and ongoing “inadequate fire containment issues”.

This resulted in an “unnecessarily increased level of risk to residents’ safety in their home, the report stated.

“While residents were supported to live and enjoy life as independently as they possibly could, due to the layout of their home, this was not always possible for all residents”, it said.

Overall, “the poor upkeep and state of repair throughout took away from the homely feel to the house”. It also meant there was an increased infection prevention and control risks to residents living in the centre.

Inspectors also identified instances of poor governance at three centres operated by St John of God Community Services.

At one centre, an “urgent action” was issued to the provider due to poor fire safety measures that posed a risk to residents and had been identified during a previous inspection. At the remaining two centres, improvements were needed in the premises and to fire safety measures.

At two centres operated by The Cheshire Foundation in Ireland, improvements were needed in different areas such as fire safety and the admissions policy for residents.

Safeguarding incidents and their impact on residents were identified at a centre operated by St Michael’s House.

Better staffing was required to ensure that residents’ needs were met at a centre operated by The Rehab Group.

Better fire safety measures were also needed to protect residents at a centre operated by Stewarts Care DAC and another centre operated by The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times