The risks associated with staff shortages, staff training, and risk management in mental health services have been raised by the Mental Health Commission (MHC).
The Inspector of Mental Health Services Dr Susan Finnerty said: “There are risks associated with an inability to recruit and retain staff which results in an inappropriate skill mix to meet the needs of residents.”
Dr Finnerty was speaking as the MHC published seven annual inspection reports, and two focused reports, which show non-compliances for the regulation on staffing across eight out of the nine approved mental health centres inspected.
In total, the inspections found a total of two critical-risk non-compliances for the regulation on staffing, and sixteen additional high-risk non-compliances for staffing, individual care planning and risk management across centres in Mayo, Roscommon, Dublin, Cork, Louth, Laois and Clare.
Dr Finnerty said that the reports highlighted that the provision of up-to-date training for staff to ensure the centre “meets the basic and mandatory requirement for compliance is essential” for the safety and wellbeing of patients and residents.
According to the MHC, good practices and quality initiatives observed during inspections at the centres included a physical health information tool developed for six-monthly physical health assessments required by regulation; a new patient diagnosis information sheet written in a patient-friendly language and made available to residents; a family clinic initiative for family members, and carers and supporters/close friends of people who were inpatients; and a new infrared system that significantly reduces risk of falls for residents within a centre.
Poor practices found by inspectors during inspections included insufficient numbers of registered psychiatric nurses in order to meet resident needs; no occupational therapist working in, or available to, the approved centre; nursing vacancies; two vacant social worker posts; two vacant occupational therapist posts; one vacant psychologist post; not all healthcare staff trained in basic life support, fire safety, the management of violence and aggression, and the Mental Health Act 2001; and critical risks identified in regards to fire safety.
*The reports can be found at https://www.mhcirl.ie/