Concerns that HSE is closing ‘by stealth’ a unit for older people in Roscommon

Minister in 2015 said ‘there were “no plans to close it and there will be no such plans’

Many of the residents of the Rosalie unit at Áras Naomh Chaolain in Castlerea suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Photograph: Getty

Many of the residents of the Rosalie unit at Áras Naomh Chaolain in Castlerea suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Photograph: Getty

 

Concern has been expressed that the HSE may have reneged on a 2015 promise to keep open a facility in Co Roscommon for elderly people with mental health issues.

Many of the residents of the Rosalie unit at Áras Naomh Chaolain in Castlerea suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

The HSE had placed an embargo on admissions to the unit in September 2016, despite assurances given the previous year. Relatives of residents at the unit have expressed fears the HSE would close it and move residents to Ballinasloe.

Fears it would be closed were allayed in July 2015 when then minister of state for health Kathleen Lynch told a deputation from Roscommon there were “no plans to close it and there will be no such plans.”

Liam Walsh, who was on the 2015 delegation which met Ms Lynch, said health officials has promised to put in place a bespoke dementia and Alzheimer’s unit and to keep families abreast of developments.

“Neither has happened,” said Mr Walsh, whose mother Breda (83) is a resident of the unit. He said when she entered the unit in 2009 it had 34 residents. “In 2015 it had just over 20 residents, now it has 13,” he said. “Only four have family members. The majority don’t. They are ‘low-hanging fruit’.”

Geriatrician

Consultant geriatrician at Roscommon County Hospital Gerry O’Meara said he believed the unit was “being closed by stealth.” There was a “big demand for an Alzheimer’s unit,” in Roscommon where about 2,000 people “of all ages” suffered from the disease, he said.

A deputation from Roscommon is to meet Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly at Leinster House on Wednesday.