MHC must be empowered to protect people in community mental health residences – Browne

Published on: 25 April 2018

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne TD has criticised the Government for its failure to get to grips with serious issues affecting more than 1,000 residents living in community mental health residences.

Deputy Browne made the comments after raising the issue in the Dáil earlier today on foot of a report published by the Mental Health Commission following the inspection of 43 residences for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health difficulties.

The report found that of the 43 residences inspected, just 44% of the homes were in good physical condition while 25% required urgent maintenance and refurbishment. The report further outlined how residents were locked into six of the homes while residents in a further 19 homes were unable to access basic kitchen facilities to make tea or coffee.

Deputy Browne said, “The contents of this report are truly shocking. It highlights that there are serious deficiencies in the manner in which community mental health residences are operated and maintained. Vulnerable adults are forced to live in totally inadequate accommodation and their basic right to privacy and a decent standard of living have been violated.

“The Mental Heal Commission currently has no role in regulating residential care homes as its remit is solely focused on hospital facilities. This clearly needs to change but the Government has been far too slow in bringing about the changes needed to make residential care homes a safe and comfortable place to live in.

“The expert group on the review of the Mental Health Act published an extensive list of proposed reforms in 2015 to make our mental health services fit for purpose. It made 165 key recommendations. Alarmingly, only one of these recommendations has been implemented. We have had three mental health ministers in that time and none of them have delivered on their promise to implement these recommendations.

“The Government has failed to show any sort of leadership in dealing with the serious issues impacting on our mental health services. We need to know when the Government is going to act on these specific recommendations and empower the Mental Health Commission to protect those in the care of the State.”

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