Sunday 15 September 2019

CWCW defends record amid neglect claims

The County Wexford Community Workshop in Enniscorthy.
The County Wexford Community Workshop in Enniscorthy.

By David Tucker

A COUNTY Wexford-based charity providing services for people with disabilities, has defended its record and says there has never been any adverse finding of neglect or abuse of any service user of the organisation.

County Wexford Community Workshop (CWCW) in Enniscorthy was responding to a report in the Irish Independent which said that a former member of staff had made a number of allegations, including claims that clients were mistreated and neglected.

Without detailing any of the complaints, the CWCW said in a statement sent to this newspaper that it is, and always has been, open to any investigation by the HSE

It said that arising from a complaint by an ex-employee in 2010, its board commissioned the services of a consultant, which was carried out in conjunction with the HSE.

'CWCW implemented all the recommendations of the Report at that time. The actions and learning from this Report has been of great benefit to CWCW services and to its service users in the intervening years, especially when the National Standards in Day Services (New Directions) were launched in 2012,' said a spokesperson.

'CWCW has been reviewed since by the HSE and feedback to date has been positive and there are no ongoing issues at CWCW which are a cause of any concern. CWCW has a healthy and ongoing respect for all its service users and all necessary regulatory matters and there has never been any adverse finding of neglect or abuse of any service user at CWCW.'

The HSE commissioned three separate reviews at the CWCW, which receives over €4 million-a-year in State funding.

The charity and associated companies provide residential and respite care, as well as clinical, training and employment services. They also run restaurants, a sports centre and a garden centre.

The Irish Independent said it had learned that concerns raised by a former member of staff were forwarded to the HSE last year.

Officials at the HSE's social care division subsequently ordered reviews looking at the quality of services and concerns over the alleged mistreatment and neglect of service users.

The HSE's internal audit section has also examined concerns raised by the former staff member.

In a statement sent to this newspaper, the HSE said it had recently received the last of three reports and was considering these.

'A plan for their dissemination will then be agreed when the full review is complete,' it said.

The HSE said it works to support people with disabilities and to ensure they are are safe and empowered to maximise their potential through respect and understanding and 'a range of measures had been put in place right across the system'. It did not respond directly to the claims of mistreatment and neglect at CWCW.

One of the HSE reviews has been examining what action was taken in response to allegations of neglect and mistreatment referenced in a 2010 report by a consultancy firm.

The unpublished report looked at operating practice and client care at a CWCW enterprise which provides employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Monalee Training and Consultancy was commissioned by CWCW's chief executive to conduct an independent external investigation, in partnership with the HSE, following complaints by the former employee.

The resulting report validated many of the issued raised by the former employee and made over 80 recommendation.

One of the recommendations called for staff to be provided with training on how to treat service users with dignity and respect and to understand the difference between banter and degrading behaviour.

The Independent said the Monalee report said there appeared to have been no appropriate incident recording system at the enterprise.

Records kept were of an extremely poor and unprofessional quality. Many incident reports had no date and no witness signature.

The report also found there was sufficient evidence to recommend the further investigation of concerns about the welfare of service users. These included concerns regarding mistreatment or neglect of service users by staff and a claim that one client had a history of sexualised behaviour with another service user.

The report concluded there was a total disregard for any standards around recruitment and vetting at the enterprise.

It also found that the former employee was treated on some occasions in an off-hand, unprofessional and unfair manner.

Wexford People

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