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Director of Care Unit Turned Firehose on Teenage Girl

Irish Times, Mon, Feb 15, 2010 by Carl O'Brien Chief Reporter

THE DIRECTOR of a special care unit for troubled children turned a high-powered firehose on a teenage girl after she refused to get out of bed, it has emerged.

The incident, which occurred at Ballydowd care unit in Dublin last year, prompted a number of investigations by the Health Service Executive (HSE) into care standards at the centre. The unit is due to close following a damning report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

The report highlighted a litany of problems, including difficulties with management, security of children and basic accommodation standards.

It also highlighted serious difficulties of trust between management and staff, which presented as a crisis of confidence in the management of challenging behaviour and in the recording of significant incidents.

The child at the centre of the firehose incident made a complaint to gardaí at Lucan, although it is understood that no charges have been brought.

Following the firehose incident in February of last year, two care staff who were alleged to have encouraged the teenager to make a complaint were placed on administrative leave. They were subsequently reinstated after almost five months.

One staff member who witnessed the firehose event said: “We couldn’t believe it. The hose was turned on a full capacity, it was a powerful hose, for about a minute or more. The room was completely saturated.”

The HSE yesterday declined to comment on the firehose incident except to say that under the Childcare Act, it was precluded from commenting on individual children in care.

In a statement, it said: “It should be stressed that children in a special care unit can often present with difficult and complex behaviours that are associated with a high level of risk. Staff working at special care units are trained to deal with this type of behaviour, while at all times protecting the best interest of the child.”

A senior source has confirmed that a social work team in the north-west reviewed the incident and concluded that the treatment of the child could be considered abusive.

However, a subsequent independent report commissioned by the HSE’s assistant national director for children and families disagreed with these findings. It found the treatment could not be categorised as abuse based on official guidelines.

The volume of concerns among staff and anonymous complaints over the handing of incidents involving children led to a more wide-ranging investigation into standards of care across the centre by the HSE last year. Some complainants claimed incident reports in relation to the behaviour of children were being deliberately “toned down” to present Ballydowd in a better light.

The HSE’s report found that these anonymous allegations were “unfounded and malicious”, according to a senior source.


Director of unit for troubled teens to face assault charge

Irish Times, 29 March 2010 by Jamie Smyth, Social Affairs Correspondent

THE DIRECTOR of a special care unit for troubled children has been summonsed to appear in court next month to face a charge of assault.

Enda Fulham, who is listed with an address in Artane, works at the Ballydowd care unit – a centre in Palmerstown, Co Dublin, which cares for the needs of young people with serious emotional and behavioural problems.

The Health Services Executive (HSE), which runs the centre, said yesterday it could not comment on any individual personnel matters.

It is understood Ms Fulham is currently on sick leave.

Attempts by The Irish Times to contact her yesterday failed.

Ms Fulham was charged under section two of the Non Fatal Offences Against The Persons Act 1997. It follows an incident at the centre last year when a firehose was turned on a teenage girl when she refused to get out of bed.

Officers at Lucan Garda station investigated the complaint.

The incident prompted a number of investigations by the (HSE) into care standards at the centre. The 24-bed special care detention unit was opened nine years ago at a cost of €13 million.

Following publication of the reports into the standard of care offered at Ballydowd, the HSE said in October 2009 that “a decision has been taken to close the Ballydowd facility.” According to the HSE, the decision was “based on the general suitability of the building and facilities.”

Special care units are secure residential facilities for young people aged between 12 and 17 who are detained under a High Court order for a short period of time.

No Assault Charge Against Care Unit Boss

Irish Examiner, April 15, 2010 by Noel Baker

THE director of a centre for teenagers accused of turning on a fire hose to rouse a child who refused to get out of bed had an assault charge against her withdrawn in the district court yesterday.

Enda Fulham, with an address in Artane in Dublin, was due before court yesterday to hear a charge under section two of the Non Fatal Offences Against The Persons Act 1997, following the incident at the Ballydowd Special Care Unit in February last year.

Ms Fulham was recently charged in relation to the incident, but Sgt Brian Jacobs of Lucan Garda Station told the court the case was being withdrawn. No reason was provided as to why the case was not being pursued.

It is understood Ms Fulham has been on sick leave and that she was not in court yesterday.

It is understood that two care staff were placed on administrative leave after making a complaint.

They were subsequently reinstated some months later.

It is understood no disciplinary action has been taken against Ms Fulham.

The HSE, which ran the Ballydowd Centre, decided last October to close the facility following a HIQA recommendation which claimed there were not enough staff to run the unit safely.

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, April 15, 2010