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UK: mental health facilities ‘seriously deficient’

The national coalition that promotes improved mental health services was responding to inspection reports published by the Mental Health Commission.

The commission found “serious deficiencies” in many of the 43 nurse-supervised residences it inspected last year.

Director of Mental Health Reform, Shari McDaid, said an expert group recommended that HSE-operated community residences should be regulated three years ago.

It has been flagged as far back as 2003 by the Inspector of Mental Health Services that some of these types of residences are operating as ‘mini-institutions’, said Ms McDaid.

The Government must legislate to extend the remit of the commission so it can create standards and close down residences that fall below standard, she said.

In 14% of the residences inspected doors were locked and the people who lived there were not free to leave.

In more than three-quarters (77%) of the residences, those living there could not lock their bedroom doors.

The residences were developed for people who had been living in large psychiatric institutions but nowadays also accommodate those discharged from both long-stay and acute mental healthcare services.

Commission chairman John Saunders said there is a “serious” lack of suitable accommodation options and staff to help people progress towards the goal of independent community-based living.

Mr Saunders said the goal should be to help people graduate to more independent settings as they gain skills and confidence.

However, only half (51%) of the 43 residences inspected had a rehabilitation team. The commission found that only 44% of residences were in good physical condition. One in five (19%) needed urgent maintenance and refurbishment.

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