FEARS that residents are being moved out of the Deilginis Mental Health Facility for cost-saving reasons rather than what is in the residents’ best interests, were voiced at this week’s meeting of Shannon Town Council.
The council received a letter from the Department of Health, written in response to an earlier query, which outlined the position in relation to Deilginis.
The letter stated, “The minister [Kathleen Lynch, Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People] has made enquiries of the HSE regarding the issues raised in your correspondence and has been advised that the position at present is that any changes in relation to Deilginis Support Residence are made in line with the changing needs of the patients, the principles of recovery and are supported by the Vision for Change Policy.
Discussions are ongoing with housing agencies and associations with a view to providing more appropriate accommodation for the remaining residents in Deilginis.
“The outreach service operating from Shannon Day Centre is operational and while the reconfigures service is in its infancy, it is working well, enabling patients to care for themselves as part of a rehabilitative service. Rather than having patients being dependent on high levels of staff support, Clare Mental Health Services is encouraging patients to care for themselves and to take a more active part in society.”
Councillor Tony McMahon has been vocal on the issue of Deilginis in the past and he was critical of the letter. “When it says they are looking for more appropriate accommodation, what could be more appropriate than where they have lived their lives for a long number of years?”
He queried whether they are being moved because of cost saving and said he understood the levels of staff at Deilginis had been greatly reduced.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy said the gap to independent living may be too much for many of the residents and that she didn’t see the sense of the Department of Health’s move.
Independent Gerry Flynn also said that he considered it “a backward step”, while Fine Gael’s Mary Brennan said she felt the department were looking for cost savings rather than the best interests of residents.
She said the residents were accepted in the community and had friends in the community. “It’s not cattle we’re talking about, it’s humans,” she concluded.