Updated: 06/02/18 : 06:22:41
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Five staff on paid leave following abuse allegations at residential centre

An organization providing residential services for adults with intellectual disabilities has put five staff from one of its centres on paid leave pending two investigations into allegations of abuse.

RTÉ reports that Sunbeam House Services, which is based in Wicklow and Southeast Dublin, confirmed to RTÉ News that it took the decision hours after receiving the allegations It said sending the staff home ensured the residents' safety until the matter has been investigated fully.

Sunbeam House Services (or SHS), which was established almost 70 years ago to help people with intellectual disabilities, provides 155 residential care places in 23 centres, along with almost twice that number of day-care placements. It employs over 400 people.

Responding yesterday to RTÉ News' queries about rumours that six staff at one centre had been sent home, the charity's chief executive officer, Hugh Kane, said five staff were on paid leave "at the present time" and that the centre concerned accommodates a number of adults.

Mr Kane explained that last Friday week, SHS had "received allegations raising  concerns about potential safeguarding issues" in the centre which had been considered by senior staff, including the SHS's internal safeguarding team, some of whom had interviewed the complainant before management informed the gardai that same Friday.

Mr Kane told RTÉ News the allegations had been referred to the gardai in the area where the centre is located.  He said SHS had informed "all the relevant authorities" and had "spoken to the families (of the residents) involved."

Sunbeam House Services has promised that it and its main funder, the HSE, will also conduct a full investigation into the allegations.

The charity said it was liaising with the Gardai to ensure that it did not impede the police investigation.

The SHS's most recent Directors' Report and Financial Statements relate to 2016. They state that the charity received 93% of its 26.6 million annual budget from the HSE.

Mr Kane also told RTÉ News that the SHS charity had also notified the Health Information and Quality Authority of the allegations. The statutory watchdog told RTÉ News it does not comment on individual cases. However, HIQA said that, where significant risk is identified, it can:

    seek additional information or specific documentation from the provider to demonstrate
    compliance with the Regulations and National Standards
    request an investigation led by the provider
    review how the issue was dealt with by the provider on the centre's next inspection
    schedule an unannounced inspection to examine any risk indicated by the information received.

HIQA added that all information received by it is acknowledged, recorded, risk assessed and used to inform further monitoring activity, including inspection, as required.