Press Release

Minister welcomes report on Ballydowd Special Care Unit

Mr Brian Lenihan TD, Minister for Children, has today (19 September 2002) welcomed the Social Services Inspectorate Report on Ballydowd Special Care Unit. The Unit is operated by the South Western Area Health Board.

The Minister noted many positive points in the report including the good relationship between the staff members and the young people. He endorsed the view that a special care unit cannot be the answer to the problems of all young people with challenging behaviour in need of care and protection. However, where young people are detained in a special care unit we must ensure that the service offered is of the highest standard.

The Minister acknowledged that working with disturbed young people is particularly challenging and difficult.

“It is clear that the quality of the service had disimproved between the first and second inspection,” said the Minister.

“I am assured by the area health board that the factors which gave rise to the difficulties identified in the report have been addressed by the health board. I am encouraged to hear that steps have been taken in relation to staff recruitment, retention and training, a new management structure and that the health board are committed to having the service fully operational by the end of the year. Given the significance of this report I have asked the Chief Executive of the Eastern Regional Health Authority to ensure that this unit is fully operational and operates as a centre of excellence as soon as possible and that all the necessary support will be provided to the health board.”

The Minister visited Ballydowd during the Summer and was impressed by the work being undertaken by the Health Board. The Minister pointed out that funding of €40 million has been invested in the development of special care and high support facilities including Ballydowd.