A lack of resources has led to 16 children being admitted to the adult mental health unit in Kerry General Hospital.
An inspection has found that between February 2014 and last September the children were admitted to the Sliabh Mis Unit.
The Mental Health Commission carried out the unannounced inspection on September 3rd and 4th last.
The unit, which is registered for 39 adult residents, consists of two wards – Reask and Valentia; a third facility for intensive care, which was recently completed remains unopened due to staffing issues. Staff told the inspection team it was not unusual for the unit, which is currently being refurbished, to function at 100 per cent or greater capacity. While staffing was sufficient to meet all residents’ needs the inspection notes staff often work overtime or had to be had to be redeployed from other areas in the mental health services. A number of areas were rated excellent including food and nutrition, clothing, religion and general health. Ventilation in the kitchen was highlighted as an issue; works were due to be completed on the kitchen by November. Patient records kept in an open area where there could have been a potential risk to privacy were locked away. The report recommends that no children should be admitted to the unit as it did not provide age-appropriate facilities. Each child was assigned a one to one nurse for the duration of the admission. However, a lack of beds for children and adolescents within the mental health services is an ongoing issue locally and nationally. The Kerry branch of the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association says a purpose built unit is needed in the county to tackle this issue.