Press Release

November 16th 2018

EPIC – Empowering People in Care are very concerned at use of handcuffs and pepper-spray on children

EPIC – Empowering People In Care, has expressed serious concern at the findings by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) in an announced inspection of the Gleann Alainn Special Care Unit in Cork.

Special care units can often be challenging environments for both the children placed in these units and the staff. Children placed in these units are often extremely traumatised and do require significant levels of support. If we are to achieve positive outcomes for them we have to ensure that the maximum level of support is given to every child based on their own individual needs.

As a minimum standard, all staff working in these units must have access to appropriate training, including refresher training, as part of a continuous professional development programme to enable them to provide care in accordance with evidence based practice, the statement of purpose and policies and procedures.

In the report issued by HIQA they found that a significant number of staff did not have training in key areas nor did they have an adequate understanding of the requirements of the regulations.

The report also found that the unit did not have a sufficient skill mix of staff members in the special care unit at all times and that the unit did not have appropriate numbers of staff present at all times.

The question that must be asked is if sufficient numbers of appropriately trained staff, with the optimum mix of skills, had been present on the unit at all times and if all care practices, operational policies and procedures had been in place, would this not have helped to reduce the large number of significant events, including “incidents of violence and aggression” that took place in the unit?

The CEO of EPIC, Terry Dignan, commented:

“Successive HIQA reports point to an ongoing issue in properly resourcing our special care units. It’s imperative that we don’t continue to fail often very vulnerable children by providing in adequate levels of care and support.

EPIC has very serious concerns that the use handcuffs and pepper spray would be seen as an appropriate response to managing the behaviour of a child at any time, but particularly in light of the failings to provide sufficient levels of training to the staff responsible for caring for these children, as highlighted in the HIQA report.

Children placed in the care of the state should not be criminalised because of the failings of the state.”


Notes to the Editor


For all media enquiries or to arrange an interview please contact:

Terry Dignan, CEO of EPIC

Telephone: 01 8727 661 Mobile: 087 2370269 Email: Website: Twitter: @epicireland Facebook:

EPIC (formerly IAYPIC) is an independent association that works throughout the Republic of Ireland, with and for children and young people who are currently living in care or who have experience of living in care.

EPIC is a company limited by guarantee, registered at 7 Red Cow Lane, Smithfield, Dublin 7, D07 KX52. Company Registration No. 381973. Registered Charity No. 20055080. CHY No. 15742. Chairperson: S. Commins. Company Secretary: D. Maher. Directors: H. Jenkinson, D. Maher, C. Moloney, D. Mullen, G. Noble, M. Ryan. A. Gilligan

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