An organisation 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.

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, 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 daycare placements. It employs more than 400 people.

Speaking to RTÉ News, 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 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 gardaí later that day.

Mr Kane told RTÉ News the allegations had been referred to the gardaí 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 Health Service Executive, will also conduct a full investigation into the allegations.

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

SHS's most recent directors' report and financial statements relate to 2016. They state that the charity received 93% of its €26.6m annual budget from the HSE.

Mr Kane also said 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.