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April start for reorganisation of mental health services

A DRAMATIC overhaul in the provision of community psychiatric services including the provision of a new state-of-the-art dementia facilities for complex cases in Ennis will be provided next April, the Health Service Executive has confirmed.
The regional health authority has also revealed that the Orchard Lodge, Kilrush will cease next April as part of a re-organisation of Clare Mental Health Services in line with best international practice.
Details of the changes were unveiled this week ahead of a whistle-stop tour of mental health facilities in the county by Minister of State at the Department of Health, John Moloney this Friday.
Minister Moloney is due to visit Orchard Lodge, Kilrush at 12 noon, the Kilrush Day Hospital at 12.45pm, Cappahard Lodge at 2.35pm and the acute psychiatric unit in Ennis hospital at 3.30pm. His visit will conclude with a meeting with all the relevant stakeholders in St Joseph’s Hospital.
Health Service Executive clinicians will outline to the minister the progressive care strategies and developments that are being undertaken in the county.
The HSE insisted these developments are informed by best international practice and a move from institutional care to multidisciplinary community care models as well as by the changing needs of their clients after a process of consultation with clients, families, clinicians, staff and their associations.
It has no plans to alter the day service in Kilrush and the West Clare catering service will continue operate from the Orchard Lodge.
“There is ongoing engagement with residents and their families as we are conscious of the need to ensure that their anxieties are addressed. It is envisaged that the majority of the present residents of Orchard Lodge will continue to reside in the Kilrush area.
“In some cases, the specific needs of the residents will require that they are accommodated in appropriate facilities located in Ennis.
“This change in the functioning of Orchard Lodge will not result in the loss of any jobs and all staff will be accommodated within the service,” said a HSE spokesman.
Work is already underway on the new specialised dementia unit in St Joseph’s Hospital to cater for complex cases, which should be operational in April.
The Gort Glas unit situated on the St Joseph’s campus will be refurbished and developed to accommodate the out-patient and community-based aspects of the Psychiatry of Old Age service. 
The HSE also anticipates that in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and building on their experience and existing dementia service, it will develop a dementia daycare service on this site.
The outcome of these developments will be that a comprehensive dementia-specific service incorporating in-patient, out-patient, and daycare services under the care of the Psychiatry of Old Age team will be located on the grounds of St Joseph’s Hospital.
“The HSE is confident that it is acting in the best interests of its patients as it introduces more efficient and up-to-date practices that will not only improve the quality of care provided but will also contribute to the more effective use of resources,” a HSE spokesman explained.
Ahead of Minister Moloney’s visit, Deputy Pat Breen has reiterated his opposition to the closure of the Orchard Lodge, Kilrush.
Having visited the facility recently, Deputy Breen stated he was very impressed with all the facilities, how it was being run and he found all the 17 residents were very happy in the facility and believes they should be allowed to remain on.
“I am very concerned about the anxiety that the closure of Orchard Lodge will cause for patients who were assured it would be their new home when they moved there first seven or eight years ago. I thought the premises was spotless when I visited it and was being run very efficiently. I would like to see more patients accommodated there instead of closing it down,” he said.
In the event of closure, Deputy Breen has expressed concern about the apparent lack of a plan to deal with what will be done with the premises in the future.
The Fine Gael deputy said that he was happy that Minister Moloney was honouring his commitment to visit mental health facilities in Clare and felt he had an understanding of how mental health services worked.

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