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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Rights violations at state care home ]

Rights violations at state care home

CHILDREN’S rights are being violated at a state care home for mentally ill children, a report by the Ombudswoman is expected to say tomorrow.

The report comes on the back of revelations by DISY deputy Stella Kyriakidou about the home’s desperate conditions two years ago and more recently a public condemnation of the state’s indifference towards the issue by Child Commissioner Leda Koursoumba.

To be fair, newly-appointed Labour Minister Sotiroula Charalambous employed more specialists to help the home’s staff deal with the children when she took over in February. Yet according to Nicolaou’s report that is too little, too late.

Despite the efforts of the new Labour Minister, new accusations have emerged over the possible sexual abuse of children at the shelter. It also became clear that children were still being locked in their rooms for hours on end.

The report has been handed over to Charalambous, Kyriakidou and other parties, while its contents were revealed in Politis newspaper yesterday.

It highlights dire living conditions, with some children living in rooms with just one bed in them.

Back in 2007, Kyriakidou said children as young as six were locked in their rooms for 12 to 16 hours a day. The Ombudswoman’s report has come to confirm Kyriakidou’s claims.

Charalambous personally committed to investigating the claims, while Nicolaou also visited the home.

The Ombudswoman concluded that immediate measures need to be taken, not just to improve the Nea Eleousa patients’ living conditions, but also improve their therapy and help them reintegrate into society.


THE REPORT

A key point in Nicolaou’s report is the continuing indifference by the state, dating back to 1992 when plans were made to improve Nea Eleousa but were never carried out due to diminished state finances.

Over the years 2008 and 2009, a total of £860,000 was included in the Nea Eleousa budget for the improvement of its establishment. Steps have already been made, but a resolution to the problem is still a far way off.

Nicolaou’s report pointed out that there is no visual contact with the outside world, leaving children (aged between six and 16) isolated from the rest of the world.

The actual building is ancient. The bedrooms the children are living in are so empty they are reminiscent of prison cells, some having just a bed in them.

The home’s administration justifies this with the fact that many patients have destructive tendencies and break the doors, or eat away at the furniture, curtains and anything else they can get their hands on. They also claim that many children are suffering from syndromes that haven’t been diagnosed yet, which makes it harder for them to predict their moods.

During her investigation into Nea Eleousa, the Ombudswoman also found that:

* Children are being locked in their rooms for the largest part of the day due to the lack of staff to deal with them.

* Claims have emerged over young patients being sexually abused.

* Instead of taking the patients to the doctor, some of the home’s nurses take their medical files instead, where the doctor just readjusts the patient’s pharmaceutical prescriptions.

* The home’s swimming pool, installed to offer hydrotherapy, has been out of use for six years as high levels of bacteria were found but the problem was never fixed.

* The problem with the lack of staff intensified with the operation of the Community Houses – a programme to deinstitutionalise handicapped people. This required the transferral of the home’s most experienced staff, as many patients were being rushed to hospital on a daily basis due to injury.

* The home faces hygiene problems, with staff members recently holding a work stoppage due to the amount of infections that occurred because of the unhygienic and dirty conditions there.

* Staff took 450 days off as sick leave from 2005 until 2008, due to many and frequent injuries suffered by the patients’ violent outbursts.


(Source: Cyprus Mail)



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