Funding crisis forces Dublin dementia centre to stop taking new residents

St Joseph’s says it has no other option as Government is accused of ‘backtracking’

Management at St Joseph’s in Shankill has decided they can no longer accept new residents due to funding concerns. File photograph: iStock

The State’s largest nursing home specifically for dementia patients is to stop admitting new patients due to a funding crisis.

St Joseph’s, in Shankill, south Dublin, says it has no other option but to cease residential admissions with immediate effect.

Managed by St John of God Hospital, St Joseph’s accommodates 60 people living with dementia and provides two respite beds and 120 daycare places.

Management first flagged difficulties with funding a month ago, saying the facility has been operating at a “significant and unsustainable” deficit for the past seven years.


In recent weeks, agreement was reached with the HSE on the funding of daycare places into next year.

However, talks with the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which funds the residential places, failed to break the deadlock, resulting in Sunday's announcement by management.

Chief executive Emma Balmaine expressed disappointment at the failure of talks with the NTPF to progress.

“We will of course continue to engage but the gap between what’s on offer and what is needed to sustain this high-dependency service into the future, is still far too wide.

“We will do everything possible to save St Joseph’s. However, time is running out in respect of securing the necessary budget for 2020, and our board is firmly of the view that there is no basis as of now, to enable us accept any new admissions at this time.”

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly expressed his "horror" that St Joseph's was stopping taking residential patients.

The move was a major step towards full closure, possibly within weeks, he claimed.

"What we're seeing here is outrageous backtracking from the Government. Minister for Health Simon Harris was very quick to take to the airwaves to reassure his voters that St Joseph's would be saved when it first revealed it was in danger of closing its doors in a funding crisis. He made similar promises on the floor of the Dáil."

St Joesph’s says it has covered a €7 million financial shortfall from its own resources since 2012, but another €1.2 million is needed this year.

The extra money is mostly needed to upgrade infrastructure and to improve staffing ratios in line with regulatory requirements set down by the Health Information Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.