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Áras Attracta care home: Investigations into alleged abuse of residents

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Media captionAn undercover researcher, posing as a work experience student, secretly filmed hours of poor standards of care at Unit Three of Áras Attracta care centre, home to to three women with severe intellectual disabilities.

Police and health authorities are investigating allegations that staff abused vulnerable adults at a care home in the Republic of Ireland.

It follows an undercover investigation by the Irish state broadcaster, RTÉ, which broadcast secretly recorded TV footage of Áras Attracta care centre.

It showed residents with intellectual disabilities being slapped, kicked, force-fed and physically restrained at the home in Swinford, County Mayo.

Several staff have been suspended.

Three separate investigations are now under way, by the police, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

The undercover investigation, broadcast on Tuesday night, focused on Unit Three of Áras Attracta, a bungalow that is home to three women with severe intellectual disabilities.

The programme began after a whistleblower contacted RTÉ to allege poor standards of care at the home. Not all staff who work at the centre have been accused of wrongdoing.

An undercover researcher, posing as a work experience student, filmed the residents being confined to chairs for hours at a time, with little or no positive interaction with their carers.

Care provision at the home is ultimately the responsibility of the HSE, the body that runs all public health services in the Republic of Ireland.

It described the behaviour of staff portrayed in the footage as "totally unacceptable".

In a statement, it said: "The HSE wishes to apologise unreservedly to the residents concerned and to their families for any distress experienced at any time in relation to poor standards of care provided to them in Unit Three."

The HSE said it did not wish to "pre-empt the findings of an independent investigation" but added that it has taken a number of immediate actions to "guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Unit Three".

It said the care home staff against whom allegations were made "have, without prejudice, been put off duty".

The HSE also notified the police and the health services watchdog, the (HIQA), of the allegations against its staff and has appointed disability services expert Christy Lynch to conduct "a full and thorough investigation into the matter".

The director general of the HSE, Tony O'Brien, said in a statement: "Much of what was viewed on Primetime falls well below the standards that we expect in the health services. Such standards should not and will not be tolerated in the HSE."

He added: "At the centre of many of these examples of poor practice is individual responsibility of staff members."

However, Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch, told RTÉ: "I refuse to believe Áras Attracta is the only place where this is happening. We are looking at what other processes we can put in place."

The minister said she found the investigation "really very disturbing".

A police spokesperson confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into allegations of abuse at Aras Attracta care home and that officers were liaising with the HSE and HIQA.

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