Unlawful Conditions in the Topház Special Home in Göd - Conclusions of the Investigation Conducted by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights
According to the conclusions of the investigation conducted by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, there is an urgent need to replace institutional capacities in the Special Home in Göd, where undignified conditions have been prevailing for years. These conditions have not resulted from the recent change in management, they originate from the preceding period, has concluded Ombudsman László Székely who, in order to facilitate the earliest possible solution of the shortcomings in staffing and resources, has also made several recommendations.
In their submissions sent to the Commissioner, the care workers of the TOPhÁZ Special Home complained about the conditions that had changed after the replacement of the head of the institution in 2016, making a negative impact on the living conditions of the Home’s residents as well. The colleagues of the Ombudsman paid an unannounced visit to the institution. The special home provides care for intellectually impaired persons; some of them are multiply, the vast majority of them are severely disabled. Some residents suffer from serious psychiatric illnesses, many of them present danger to themselves and to others.
The report points out: it was already established by the investigation carried out by the operator and confirmed by the Ombudsman’s inquiry, that the institution is only partly in possession of the personal and material conditions ensuring the proper provision of care to the residents. The institution has an air of dereliction and neglect; an infection-free and hygienic environment is provided only partially. As a result, according to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, patients’ rights are unacceptably infringed upon, the provision of care is inadequate. The investigation has established that the head of the institution endeavors to assign precise and clear tasks, to monitor the institution’s operation in a regular and consistent manner, to introduce a patient-friendly attitude. However, cooperation between the management and the staff is fraught with difficulties, which adversely affects work and, as a result, the provision of care to the residents.
The submissions contain complaints about conditions (personnel shortage, over-crowdedness, dilapidated residential building) that are not connected to the change in management and, according to the reports on the inspection conducted by the authorities in 2015, had existed before. The conditions of nursing, taking care and housing had been in serious violation of the patients’ human dignity and other fundamental rights even before the change in management took place. Most of these conditions either still existed or were in the process of being eliminated as a result of various measures taken by the management during the Ombudsman’s investigation.
In the course of his investigation, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has also experienced some of the “special features” of high capacity residential institutions. The number of patients is extremely high, material conditions (bathrooms, restrooms, beds, mattresses) are deficient. The shortage of the nursing and care taking staff, the lack of accessibility and equal access constitute a serious problem. All these not only result in the sharp decline of the professional level of services, but also make the staff resort to taking stopgap measures, such as bathing in groups, using cage beds, installing door grates. The Ombudsman’s report points out that the conditions prevailing in the Special Home compromise the right to equal human dignity, the requirement of equal treatment and the State’s obligation to provide special protection to persons living with disabilities. Overall, and the individual measures on their own raise the issue of violating the ban on degrading, inhuman treatment, and the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are not observed, either.
The on-the-spot inspection by the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights has unequivocally concluded that the replacement of institutional capacities in the Special Home is inevitable. According to the Commissioner, in this conflict-ridden situation, plagued by frustrations and shortcomings in staffing and resources, the chances of persons with disabilities, residing in the institution, to live with dignity have been put off for years. Ombudsman László Székely has forwarded his conclusions to the Minister of Human Capacities, to the operator of the institution and to the Head of the Special Home.