Unacceptable living conditions for people with long term mental health difficulties in mini institutions

Mental Health Reform, the National Coalition for Mental Health, has expressed serious concern that people with severe mental health difficulties are living in unacceptable conditions in mini institutions around the country.

Mental Health Reform echoes concerns expressed by the Mental Health Commission (MHC) in its 2015 Annual Report published today (Monday 20th June), that some 24 hour staffed community residences are too large, in poor condition and institutional.

According to the Director of Mental Health Reform Dr Shari McDaid: “It is imperative that the remit of the Mental Health Commission is extended at the earliest opportunity to empower it to regulate community based services. The recommendations of the expert review of the 2001 Mental Health Act should be implemented without delay.”

“Another concern is that we have no idea exactly how many of these residences are in operation around the country and therefore how many people might be living in these institutionalised settings,” Dr McDaid added.

24-hour supervised residences were built to accommodate service users who had resided in larger old style psychiatric hospitals and in essence are these people’s homes. It is recommended that such homes should be confined to no more than four residents. However 40 per cent of residences inspected by the MHC in 2015 had more than 13 beds.

According to the MHC “Large residences tend to be institutional in environment and practices, increase the risk of stigma and limit individuals’ choices. It is important to be aware that people with long term mental illness live in these residences, often for many years. Therefore, these residences should be fit for habitation and provide a homely comfortable environment. Nearly half of the residences inspected were found to be in poor condition, which is unacceptable.”

Mental Health Reform is also concerned that only one approved centre in the public health service was fully compliant with regulations. Overall the MHC inspected 61 approved centres in 2015 and of these, just six were found to be fully compliant. There were five areas identified by the Commission of significant non-compliance: individualised care planning, privacy, staff training, safety of premises and the control and administration of medication.

“It is very disappointing that just six of the approved centres, and only one in the public mental health service, reached full compliance with what are minimum standards for the facilities and care of people in acute mental health distress.” Dr McDaid added.



About Mental Health Reform

Mental Health Reform is the national coalition promoting improved mental health services and the social inclusion of people with mental health difficulties. The coalition currently has 54 members. See www.mentalhealthreform.ie for more details. Mental Health Reform acknowledges the support of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s Scheme to Support National Organisations 2014-2016.


For more information please contact:

June Shannon,

Communications and Campaigns Officer,

Mental Health Reform,

Coleraine House,

Coleraine Street,

Dublin 7.

Tel: (086) 171 1920 / 01 874 9469.










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