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Sharp rise in restrictive practices at Ennis psychiatric unit

THERE has been an increase of 70% in the use of physical force to manage patients at Ennis’s Acute Psychiatric Unit, new figures show. The rise comes at a time when mental health experts say such measures should only be used in “exceptional” circumstances. A report from the Mental Health Commission shows there were 85 incidents, in 2019, when residents of the unit were physically restrained after they were judged to pose an immediate danger to themselves or to others. While there was a decrease nationally in the number of episodes of physical restraint in the country’s 65 approved inpatient psychiatric treatment centres, the facility in Ennis bucked that trend. There were 50 incidents of physical restraint at the unit in 2018 and 85 episodes involving 41 residents in 2019. In response to a query from The Champion, the Health Service Executive (HSE) Midwest, said it welcomed the report’s findings and is currently reviewing them. “While restrictive measures are sometimes …

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Tulla teams strive for success with innovative BTYSE projects

HUMANITY’S interaction with the natural world is explored in two exciting projects from students of St Joseph’s Secondary School in Tulla, to be showcased at the BT Young Scientist and Technology (BTYSE) exhibition which takes place in a virtual format this year. Continuing their very successful participation in the annual event, the school has entries in the Chemical and Physical Science Category as well as in the Biological and Ecological Science Category, under the guidance and direction of Science and Maths teacher, Mairéad O’Brien. A team comprised of Róisín Sheedy and Saoirse Donnellan have created a piece of jewellery with the capacity to warn people about the dangers of high levels of UV light. The project, which aims to combat rising levels of skin cancer in Ireland, is entitled ‘Solar-powered chemistry: A study of chemical reaction rates in ultraviolet beads’. The work investigates how UV-responsive beads could be used to determine the levels of protection offered by products like sun …

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Lahinch surfer saves marooned sheep from drowning

By Gordon Deegan A Lahinch surfer has saved an ‘exhausted’ sheep from drowning after the sheep had fallen off a cliff edge at the Clare seaside resort. Johnny Casey was out surfing waves at Lahinch at the southern end of the beach when he spotted the ‘marooned’ sheep in a little cave on a ledge at the cliffs. Mr Casey said today that with the tide coming in, there was a real fear that the sheep would drown and he went about rescuing the female sheep. Recalling the recent rescue effort for the ewe, Mr Casey – who celebrates his 30th birthday this weekend – stated that he saw the sheep was “standing there motionless on the ledge. She ended up there after falling down the cliff”. He stated: “I paddled in when I saw the sheep. I got one more wave and off I went. I went over to her and she was quite shaken.” Mr Casey then went to the family home …

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Porter is the first Clare resident vaccinated at Ennis Hospital

DAVID Crowe, a porter at Ennis Hospital, became the first Clare resident to be vaccinated at Ennis Hospital as part of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. The arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the Clare capital town on Wednesday has been welcomed by frontline healthcare workers, who have been challenged as never before throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The first healthcare worker at the hospital to be vaccinated was Dr Mary Kennedy of the Medical Assessment Unit, who received her vaccine from staff nurse, Caroline Mulligan. Dr Kennedy said: “This is a day we have all been waiting for in Ennis Hospital and the arrival of these vaccines gives us all hope that an end is in sight.” The first batch of vaccines was delivered to Ennis Hospital on Wednesday morning, and it is planned initially to administer 50 doses per day to healthcare staff. For those who received vaccinations today, a second vaccination is required after a three-week period. This …

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Welcome boost for Clare animal welfare groups

A TOTAL of €18,500 has been allocated to animal welfare and rescue organisations in Clare by the Department of Agriculture. The lion’s share went to Burren Animal Rescue who secured €12,000. The Tubber-based organisation offers a sanctuary for animals and rehomes horses, donkeys and pigs. It also offers a ‘virtual adoption’ service, whereby an animal can remain at the sanctuary and have its costs covered by a sponsor. In the latest funding allocation, An Cat Dubh Sanctuary in Mullagh was awarded €4,500. The organisation caters primary for cats, but is also home to some feline-friendly dogs, donkeys and hens. It provides a rehoming service as well as Trap, Neuter and Return/Release (TNR) service for feral cats. Clare Animal Welfare, meanwhile, received €2,000. The Feakle-based organisation provides a rehoming service for dogs and promotes neutering and general education on the care of dogs. Nationally, a total of €3.2m was awarded to 101 organisations. Minister Charlie McConalogue paid to everyone involved in …

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East Clare Community Response Group here to help

WITH the return of Level 5 restrictions, communities across East Clare are responding with the kindness and solidarity that they have shown throughout the last nine months of 2020. The East Clare Community Response group covers Flagmount, Killanena, Feakle, Scariff, Tuamgraney, Ogonnelloe, Bodyke, Mountshannon and Whitegate, and can be contacted on 085-8659889. Volunteers will respond to calls to that number, as well as texts or WhatsApp messages, and will support anyone who is elderly, vulnerable, or who has chosen to self-isolate. The response group will deploy Garda-vetted local volunteers in the relevant community area to ensure people have access to medicines and general supplies. Response group members work within strict medical protocols and in compliance with all public health guidelines. All requests for support are confidential and information is never held or shared. Anyone who wishes to volunteer is advised to contact their local community group.

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Vandaleur Gardens works get underway

HIGHLY-anticipated restoration works are set to get underway shortly at the Vandeleur Walled Garden, where a new interpretative museum is among the developments planned. Located in Kilrush, the gardens are among the jewels in the crown of tourism in West Clare and were visited recently by Clare County Council officials and project stakeholders. The socially-distanced site visit was in advance of the enabling works getting underway for the restoration and renovation of the old stable block. The tendering process is complete and Custy Construction Ltd, a Clare-based construction firm, has been appointed to this project. The restoration works are funded by the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, under the Department of Rural and Community Development. Additional match funding has come from the council. The main works, due to begin early this year, will include an interpretative museum and new gardeners’ building, along with the development of a new visitor experience design and approach for the complex. “I very much welcome …

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Date set for hearing on Kilfenora Waste Water Treatment Plant

AN ORAL hearing is to be held later this month in relation to the compulsory purchase of lands required for an upgrade to the Kilfenora Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). An Bord Pleanála will facilitate the online hearing on Tuesday, January 19 with a decision on the matter pencilled in for January 21. According to December’s management report from Clare County Council, it is proposed to upgrade the existing Kilfenora WWTP, reuse the existing treated effluent rising main to the current discharge point and construct a new percolation area at this site. Planning permission has been granted to Irish Water, but the appeals board has opted to hold a hearing before it adjudicates on the project. The event is described as an opportunity “to make further submissions and to allow the inspector to seek clarification on any relevant issues arising and objections made”. The board has also stressed that the hearing will look at the nature of the Compulsory Purchase Order …

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