The latest report from the HSE's Office of the Confidential Recipient on concerns or complaints related to vulnerable adults in HSE or HSE-funded care services received 155 formal concerns last year, a decrease from the 165 in the previous year.

The complaints were spread across the nine Community Healthcare Organisations.

Of the 155 complaints, 137 were related to disability services, including older person services, 14 relating to mental health and four regarding primary care.

Leigh Gath, Confidential Recipient HSE, said that one of the main issues that came to light last year was a lack of staff, both in residential and community settings for people with disabilities.

She said this meant that some people who could have stayed in their own homes had to move into nursing homes, perhaps after a short hospital stay, because of lack of support at home, even though this support had been previously available to the person.

Ms Gath said that hopefully as things are becoming more stable after two years of Covid-19, these concerns will resolve.

She said that another important issue that arose last year involved some areas of the country where a person is placed in a private nursing home, possibly because a HSE nursing home was not available, and they are not entitled to occupational therapy, physiotherapy, aids or appliances through their medical card because of where they live.

There were 59 safeguarding concerns or complaints received last year, in which staff behaviour was the largest volume reported (25).

One case under this category involved an older person who was taken to hospital after a carer reported a family member hitting the person, cutting their head.

The person was interviewed at the hospital but was too afraid to say anything was wrong.

The abuse at home continued until she was taken to hospital again, where it was determined she did not have the capacity to be returned home. She is now safe and well in a nursing facility.

In another case, a young person with autism was at a day service.

Their mother was called and when she arrived the young person had been locked in a room for an hour and the key could not be found.

The person was lying on the floor unable to be monitored through the small window.

The report says that after complaints about the service and staff behaviour, the person was eventually given a different service where they are much more settled and content.

This is the sixth annual report.