Immediate Release: 7th August 2015

In a new report published by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office, it found that the Health Service Executive (HSE) ‘failed’ children living in residential care homes. The Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon, stated that as a result of staff shortages, pre-announced inspections were delayed and that the HSE gave the impression that the monitoring of privately-run residential care homes was a ‘discretionary activity.’

The report also found little evidence of unannounced inspections, no inspections at nights or weekends, no standardised monitoring process across the four HSE regions and no national protocol on monitoring the frequency of visits.

Speaking today, Director of EPIC, Jennifer Gargan made the following comment:

“The failure of the Health Service Executive to rigorously monitor standards in private residential care homes is deeply concerning. The need to implement independent inspections in all children’s residential care homes was identified in the Ryan Report in 2009. Subsequent to the publication of the final Ryan Progress Implementation Plan-this action has still not occurred. All residential care homes must be subject to the same process of monitoring and evaluation of standards in order to ensure that all young people are safeguarded and protected at the highest level. It is inappropriate that the contracting Agency is responsible for the monitoring of these privately run centres.

It has been well-established that there has been a shift towards private residential care centres over the last number of years. While there are fewer young people in residential care centres, these young people have greater needs and are more vulnerable. The reliance on staff with short-term contracts means less experienced, skilled staff working with young people in these centres. These young people need stability in their care placements with high quality experienced staff and an independent inspection mechanism to ensure for accountability.”

EPIC calls on the government to support the Ombudsman’s for Children’s recommendation that all residential care homes should be independently inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) as a matter of the highest priority.


  1. The full Ombudsman for Children’s report is available to access here (accessed 07/08/15)
  2. There are currently 100 privately run Residential Care Homes in Ireland.
  3. The fourth and final (2015) Ryan Report Implementation Plan: Fourth Progress Report can be accessed here (accessed 07/08/15)

Note to the Editor

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

Jennifer Gargan, Director of EPIC                    

Telephone: 01 8727 661 Mobile: 086 607 3866

Email:  Website:

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