CONCERN has been expressed that a former high-support mental health facility in Shannon could be lying idle for a long period unless the Health Service Executive can afford the cost of a major refurbishment.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy stressed the Deilginis building, which was downgraded from a high-support to a low-support facility a year ago before its recent closure, should not be left unused, considering the huge demand for sheltered housing.
Councillor McCarthy stressed the HSE should act quickly to make whatever modifications were necessary as well as renovation to make the building useable once more.
The Shannon councillor noted the four houses, which were interconnected in the building, could easily be separated to accommodate people with special needs.
Describing the closure as a “serious mistake”, she recalled the facility had worked well as the residents were accepted as part of the community.
She said every town and community needed a high-support, low-support mental health facility and community residences and felt Deilginis’ downgrading and eventual demise was “short-sighted”.
The last remaining four mental health patients were transferred from Deilginis to a building owned by Respond in Shannon recently. The HSE are now leasing this building from Respond, while it owned Deilginis, which had fallen into serious disrepair.
PNA representative Denis Meehan acknowledged the transfer to Respond seemed to be working well for the patients. He said a lot of money would need to be spent before it could be used again or deemed saleable.
He expressed concern about the loss of high-support beds in the county after Deilginis was reduced to low support a year ago before it eventually closed.
He said this was illustrated by the fact there were plans to close another 18 beds in Gort Glas, Ennis. He said the union was supposed to get proposals about the transfer of these patients from Gort Glas, which is due to close before the end of July last week but this didn’t materialise.
The Health Service Executive stated links are being developed by the Mental Health Service to comply with national policy with non-statutory agencies and voluntary housing associations for people with a mental illness helping them integrate into their local communities.
The HSE has a management agreement in place with Respond whereby rent is paid to Respond on behalf of the residents and the HSE in turn collects rent and overhead costs from the residents as part of the running costs of the group home at St Francis House, Rineanna View, Shannon.
Where a HSE-owned property is vacated and is no longer required by a particular service, it is returned to the property stock maintained by the HSE Estates portfolio and a decision is made as to its future use or disposal.
“It is anticipated that residents in Gort Glas will be relocated to alternative suitable accommodation. A range of options are being explored based on the individual needs of the service users.
“A project group has been working to identify suitable accommodation for the residents in Gort Glas. Multi-disciplinary assessments have been completed to identify the supports required to assist individual service users moving from Gort Glas.
“Consultation has taken place with both families and carers and in conjunction with the Voluntary Housing Associations identified a range of residences to meet the needs and preferences of individuals.
“Funding has been sourced to provide additional staff to assist with forging therapeutic alliances with individual residents working through aspects of their daily routines, identifying areas of strength and areas needing support,” the HSE stated.