The Dean Maxwell Community Nursing Home in Roscrea
Tipperary TDs Alan Kelly and Michael Lowry have raised concerns about the HSE's Dean Maxwell nursing home plans during leaders' questions today.
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Expenditure Michael McGrath if the deadline for the HSE to stop admitting long term residents to the Dean Maxwell Nursing Unit could be postponed until the review of the national development plan is complete.
He also asked for clarification on whether the new NDP would include the Dean Maxwell home.
"We want to know so that the people will know over the Christmas and new year period whether a new NDP will facilitate a new Dean Maxwell home where the local authority and others are willing to work with the HSE to develop it.
Will the Minister give assurances to the House today that long-stay residents will be accepted from 1 January next year and that the hammer will not come down? Said Mr Kelly.
The Minister responded by saying that long-term residence would continue to be taken in until HIQA instructed the HSE otherwise.
He also said that existing residents would not have to leave by January 1.
"The Government recognises the ageing population and the pressures that will place on long-stay facilities in the public and private sectors. I recognise the potential role that the Dean Maxwell can play into the future in meeting those needs.
What we need is an agreed plan that the HSE is willing to support and seek funding for," said Mr McGrath.
Minister McGrath said that if there was a plan, he could not see funding being an issue.
Mr Kelly welcomed the Ministers response but asked if this was the case for other homes affected by the upcoming deadline.
"It must be the spirit of Christmas, but that was a very good response. Could the Minister confirm that HIQA has now agreed not to do what was proposed on 1 January?
Let me assure him that this is the biggest issue for the people of Roscrea. They want to see a long-stay, fully funded, fully functioning home in the town, similar to those in the other two major towns in the area, namely Thurles and Nenagh. That is what they want and deserve," said Mr Kelly
He also told the Minister that a plan was forthcoming and asked the Minister to confirm he would support it.
The Minister said his answer only related to the Dean Maxwell home as all individual homes must be considered separately.
He also clarified that there was one caveat that his answer only applied until HIQA issued an instruction.
"There is a commitment given by the HSE to continue to admit residents unless it is instructed otherwise by HIQA. It is important to be clear on that caveat and qualifier. If a direction is issued by HIQA, that will need to be complied with.
We take the HIQA reports and regulations extremely seriously. They are there to protect standards and safeguard residents and staff, so it is important that points made and issues raised be addressed," said Minister McGrath.
However, Independent TD Michael Lowery said he was not satisfied with the Minister's answer.
He said the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older people, Mary Butler, had told him that a 12-month extension was being given last week and he had informed the residents and staff of this. He said the Ministers anwer was not new to him.
However, he said that developing a 50-bed facility in Nenagh would undermine the Dean Maxwell home because residents would be moved out of Roscrea.
"The HSE has its own agenda when it comes to elderly residential care in north Tipperary. Political manoeuvring in the recent past, which Deputy Kelly will be aware of, ensured that a 50-bed residential unit would be built in Nenagh in the full knowledge that it would lead to a downgrading of the Dean Maxwell unit. Under the plan, the Dean Maxwell's 25 beds are reallocated to make the Nenagh project viable.
With the stroke of a pen, the well-being and happiness of elderly people in Roscrea was dismissed. The attitude involved moving the residents to Nenagh from the place they now call home on the basis that will be fine and will be only 20 miles away from the loved ones who support them. This was done in typical cloak-and-dagger fashion by the HSE, said Mr Lowry.
He went on to say he had contacted the HSE, but their responses had been "evasive" and that requests for information had been "stonewalled".
He also said the extension was given to facilitate the Nenagh development and that no new residents would be admitted to the Dean Maxwell home.
"As a result of consultation with HIQA, the Dean Maxwell was recently granted a 12-month extension to facilitate the build-out of the Nenagh unit. Importantly, no new residents are being accepted in the Dean Maxwell when a bed is vacated. That tells its own story. The people of Roscrea are being wronged, and the elderly are being sacrificed," said Mr Lowry.
He called on the Government to issue a directive to the HSE that long-stay beds should remain at the Roscrea facility.
The Minister reiterated his point that the HSE had already decided to keep residents at Dean Maxwell unless HIQA instructed otherwise.
He also said that it is important to address the issue raised by HIQA about the home but praised the facility.
"I visited the Dean Maxwell in the past. It is a very fine facility. It undoubtedly needs investment; there is no question about that, but the atmosphere, esprit de corps and the work of the staff were very impressive. I could see it was a very happy environment for the residents, which, at the end of the day, is the most important factor. The residents were very content and happy and seemed to be really well looked after. I commend all the staff working at the Dean Maxwell on the work they continue to do," said Minister McGrath.
He also reiterated that a long-term plan is required for the Dean Maxwell home and that there was clear political support for its future.
"I reiterate, however, that what we need is a long-term solution for the Dean Maxwell. I do not want this issue to be running sore. There is strong support within the Government and across this House for a long-term solution for the Dean Maxwell to enable it to continue to provide nursing-home care to residents in the future. It is significant that it is now in a position to continue to admit new residents from today, said Mr McGrath.
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