We wake again to the fallout from another distressing documentary from RTE’s Prime Time Investigating Team on the Aras Attracta home for people with intellectual disabilities in Mayo.
What disgusting treatment was meted out to residents of Unit 3 of this ‘home’: we witnessed footage of its most vulnerable residents being kicked, pinched, pulled around the floor, being sat on (by a manager), insulted and demeaned by nursing staff and care attendants.
Clearly the system for monitoring the staff and facilities and care in these homes is not working: HIQA gave Aras Attracta a clean bill of health a number of months ago. Minister Lynch is now saying that it may do “what RTE did” to prevent further abuses of this kind, namely arranging visits by undercover agents and secret filming. Why did the HSE not put this into place as a matter of practice following the other Prime Time exposés? How many more Leas Crosses and Aras Attractas do there have to be?
On an an individual level, I would hope that the women and the male manager who abused the residents in the documentary will be prosecuted. What does it take to be summarily dismissed as a HSE employee? It is hard to believe that these people are in our midst. Their lack of ability to show any common decency or humanity to the women is shocking and deplorable. And while it may be difficult to teach adults to have empathy, it is possible to improve children’s capacity for empathy and Minister Lynch and her counterpart in Education could begin to tackle the issues we have seen in the documentary by implementing the Roots of Empathy programme established by Mary Gordon: see rootsofempathy.org