Care Home Negligence: Investigations Launched after RTE Documentary “Inside Bungalow Three”

A series of investigations has been launched after an RTÉ documentary revealed care home negligence at a centre for the intellectually disabled in County Mayo.

The RTÉ documentary – “Inside Bungalow Three” – showed scenes of physical and psychological abuse by care workers at the Áras Attracta care home in Swinford, County Mayo filmed by an undercover reporter. RTÉ had been advised of the care home negligence by a former employee of the centre, whose concerns to upper management had been disregarded.

The undercover reporter had posed as a work experience student to gain access to Bungalow Three – a home to three intellectually disabled women – where she experienced shocking treatment being administered to the residents including slapping, kicking and force-feeding. In one example a resident is denied use of the bathroom, while in another a 75-year-old resident is kept seated in the same position for six hours.

The care home negligence broadcast in the documentary attracted universal condemnation. Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the abuse shown in the documentary as “sickening”, while Tony O´Brien – the Director General of the HSE – commented that the level of care was totally unacceptable and fell well below “the standards that we expect in the health services”.

Kathleen Lynch – Minister of State at the Department of Health – refused to believe that Áras Attracta is the only place where this is happening”, and Lorraine Dempsey from the Special Needs Parents Association added “Absolute responsibility in any setting goes right up to the top level of management, and in this case we are talking about the HSE”.

The HSE has launched two investigations into the care home negligence at Áras Attracta – one focusing on the specific mistreatment of residents portrayed in the documentary and the second on the care home for the intellectually disabled in general. The Gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) have also launched their own investigations.

Tony O´Brien apologised to the residents and their families on behalf of the HSE for the care home negligence. He said that the HSE did not wish to “pre-empt the findings of an independent investigation” but that the HSE has taken immediate actions to “guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Bungalow Three”. Nine staff have been suspended while the investigations into the care home negligence are conducted.