Fórsa has called for more support for care staff following reports that there were over 3,400 incidents where children in care or their carers were injured last year. Most of the injuries were to staff, with 1,663 cases reported last year in private centres alone. Another 50 incidents left staff in need of medical treatment.
The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Irish Examiner, covers incidents in special care settings, Tusla voluntary placements, and private centres. Most injuries to young people happened in private centres, where 251 incidents required first aid or medical treatment and another 66 were injured in accidents.
Young people referred to these services generally have complex psychological and sociological profiles, and have often experienced failed placements in the past.
Éamonn Donnelly, head of Fórsa’s Health and Welfare Division, said the union was striving to develop policies to reduce incidents. “We have to remember that these are difficult settings and it’s not realistic to eliminate all incidents. But the best course of action is to equip staff with the necessary skills and resources to deal with volatile situations,” he said.
He said support was also needed for staff who became overwhelmed from working in stressful and potentially violent settings.