The latest revelations from a leaked internal Health Service Executive report show clients who had long histories of "shocking alleged abuse" that were known to the services for up to 20 years but were not adequately followed up on.Serious failings in care services for the intellectually disabled were uncovered by the RTÉ Investigations Unit last week.The author of the leaked report says that because of clients' lack of capacity they were unable to escape abuse situations.
To illustrate this point the social worker refers to one particular woman who in her 30s disclosed in recent years that she was being sexually abused by a local man.Her substantial case files showed that she had first made the allegations when she had been at secondary school but it would appear that an assumption was made that the abuse had somehow stopped, when this was not the case.In fact the report says the woman had been continually abused since childhood, with her father allegedly taking payment from the abuser.
A woman was found to be living in a HSE-funded placement in a residential centre but at the time of the report's completion, the social worker had yet to visit her because he had only realised that she existed.Despite the fact he had previously visited another client living at the same centre, he knew "almost nothing" about her.
Once again the social worker refers to another client who he and his colleagues only identified at the end of the review.They found this client was also living in a HSE-funded service - yet the social worker says they knew "nothing" about the person or the service in which the individual was living.
Lastly, the report states that on three occasions children in care remained with foster carers in the region without any official oversight of those placements and the social worker says on one occasion this led to a client being abused and neglected.
Minister of State with Responsibility for Disability Finian McGrath is meeting HSE officials today to discuss the revelations.However, senior HSE management were not the only people aware of this report.Government ministers were previously made aware of the report's existence as early as January 2015.It is understood the author of the report met with then minister for health Leo Varadkar and then minister of state with responsibility for disability Kathleen Lynch and during that meeting a copy of this report was handed over.
The Department of Health says any information obtained by the ministers at the meeting was received as part of a protected disclosure and was brought to the attention of relevant bodies as appropriate.The RTÉ Investigations Unit has already revealed a catalogue of issues, including one case where a woman was returned regularly unsupervised to her family, despite it being known she had been sexually abused as a child by a family member.In another case, one residential care client had not been visited by the HSE for 16 years - the cost of the placement to the HSE was €88,000 a year.
Details of the leaked report on adults with intellectual disabilities in various care settings showed how hundreds of vulnerable adults were failed by the State's care services.It was revealed that the File Review Report was completed by a senior social worker in 2013, having taken 18 months to complete, and which examined 1,080 files spanning a 30-year period.It relates to adults with intellectual disabilities, all of whom come from the same region as the 'Grace' foster home case.
The report contains a number of key findings, including that the HSE had little or no knowledge about most of the clients in the disability services that it funded and opportunities to stop abuse from occurring were frequently missed.This meant that vulnerable people were left at serious risk of abuse including sexual abuse.The report also describes case files that had not been updated in over 25 years, while other files only consisted of a single page, and at various stages throughout the report the author uses phrases like "chaotic", "haphazard" and "a complete mystery" to describe their nature.It also makes reference to over 30 case studies, including the case of a number of individuals in care who had not been visited by the health board or HSE in almost 20 years.The HSE says the care and safety needs of all the individuals identified in the report are being met and there are no current safeguarding issues.It says it highlighted 47 cases for priority follow up. However, the report itself only references 31 case studies.So subsequent investigations by the HSE seem to have led to the discovery of a further 16 cases of concern.