A new 150-bed multi-million euro elderly care facility on a greenfield site on the outskirts of Ennis is the preferred option of the HSE to deal with infrastructural deficits in St Joseph’s Hospital.
Following discussions with HSE senior management, Deputy Pat Breen said providing a new geriatric hospital on the outskirts of the county town is being prioritised by the authority, following criticisms of the physical environment in St Joseph’s in a report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
In its response to the report, the HSE confirmed it has examined options regarding the design and layout of the centre and has also undertaken an option appraisal exercise.
“Arising from this, a proposal has been prepared outlining the costs required to enable the centre to meet HIQA environmental standards. The provider is committed to the long-term future of the centre,” the HSE stated.
While a number of options are being explored concerning the provision of long-term elderly residential care, Deputy Breen said any proposed upgrading of St Joseph’s could prove difficult while patients remain in the hospital.
With the Government’s five-year spending plan on capital projects due to be discussed by the Economic Management Council on Wednesday and details emerging of a €300 million investment in the refurbishment or replacement of State-owned nursing homes, Deputy Breen said he hopes an upgrade of St Joseph’s will be included in this funding package.
Deputy Joe Carey noted the infrastructural deficits in St Joseph’s need to be addressed and acknowledged pursuing the greenfield option makes the most sense, as it would not lead to any disruption for existing patients.
The HSE’s capital and strategic investment plan contains a commitment to identify a single greenfield site for the provision of multiple services required for community care in the greater Clare region.
SIPTU health division sector organiser, Tony Kenny, believes the infrastructural deficits in St Joseph’s Hospital underline the need for the HSE to fast-track its plans for the provision of a new 150-bed public elderly care facility as a matter of urgency.
He confirmed the HSE has indicated to the union that it is actively seeking a greenfield site for this facility to ensure full compliance with HIQA’s premises and physical environment regulations.
The latest HIQA inspection report for St Joseph’s highlighted serious concerns about the physical environment, meaningful engagement and staffing levels, following a site visit on June 17 and 18. The report stated the HSE conducted a voluntary survey of residents and relatives in St Joseph’s.
Overall respondents were complimentary of staff but three consistent areas of concern/dissatisfaction were identified – the physical environment, meaningful engagement and staffing levels. Respondents articulated a clear desire for more privacy, more space, more sanitary facilities and somewhere to meet up and chat.
There were 120 registered beds in the centre on the days of inspection; 98 of these beds were occupied, 80 of which were on a long-term basis, and the remainder occupied by residents in receipt of short-term and respite care.
Inspectors were satisfied overall that the centre is well governed and systems are in place for the ongoing review and monitoring of care and services.
“The premises is significantly non-compliant with regulatory requirements and does not meet the individual and collective needs of the residents in terms of their privacy, personal space, access to dining and communal space and adequate and accessible sanitary facilities,” the report stated.
Based on 18 outcomes, the provider was found to be in compliance with four, in substantial compliance with six, in moderate non-compliance with seven and in major non-compliance with one.
By Dan Danaher