Treatment of home residents criticised
A report on the proposed closure of an elderly care home over fire safety shortfalls has criticised the manner in which residents were treated during the process.
The Mental Health Commission (MHC) described the approach to the termination of services at the Toghermore Residence in Tuam, Co Galway as "unacceptable".
The facility currently has 14 residents, many of whom have been there for up to 16 years. However, the HSE has said that due to fire safety concerns, they must be relocated to as of yet unidentified alternatives in an unspecified timeframe.
The move has sparked calls from Labour party chairman Colm Keaveney for Minister for Health James Reilly to intervene. Mr Keaveney believes it to be more a funding issue than the result of a fire inspection report carried out on behalf of the HSE.
An inspection report on the home produced by the MHC earlier this month, obtained by The Irish Times, has sharply criticised the manner in which the decision has been communicated.
Families of residents were informed on December 21st, and the HSE indicated that due to an estimated €250,000 bill for upgrades, "under no circumstances" would the decision be reversed.
"The manner in which the proposed closure of the residence is taking place is unacceptable," the report said. "All residents that spoke said that nobody had informed them of the closure, they had heard it on the local radio and in the newspapers…they had no idea where they were going."
They were found to be "distressed and fearful about the future".
It is understood there are currently no vacancies at alternative facilities.
Mr Keaveney spoke of a potential human rights issue and has called on the HSE to reverse its decision. "For far too long this country has treated those within our mental health services in a most appalling manner," he said.
Following a visit in 2011, Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch praised the facility. "I see Toghermore's holistic and wrap-around approach as a model for primary care," she said. "We intend to put centres like this all over the country,"
A spokesperson for the HSE was unavailable for comment last night.