Loughloe still to close despite new report - HSE

Despite the release of a second report into the Loughloe House nursing home showing 80 per cent of recommendations suggested in last month’s damning report that precipitated the announcement of its closure had been achieved, the HSE said it is still to go ahead with its closure.

Local Senator Nicky McFadden welcomed the publication of Health Information Quality Authority’s (HIQA ) second inspection report on Tuesday and has urged the Government to reconsider closing the facility due to this raft of improvements.

“Public facilities such as this which benefit the local elderly community should not be closed down at the first sign of problems. Instead adequate funding must be made available to ensure satisfactory service provision,” said Senator McFadden.

“Of the 37 actions recommended on foot of the initial inspection at the Home, 30 have now been carried out successfully. It would be an outrage if Loughloe House was to be closed now, forcing those residing there to find another home,” continued Senator McFadden.

A statement from the HSE has confirmed a follow-up inspection at the Coosan Road facility last month and that “it completed several immediate remedial actions as requested by HIQA... [however], in its current format and capacity Loughloe House remains unsustainable and will not meet all of the requirements outlined in the national quality standards for residential care settings for older people as monitored by HIQA,” a spokesperson said. This inspection was undertaken to ensure the facility was addressing the immediate concerns raised in the initial report pending the closure. Since the initial inspection the number of residents has reduced by more than 50 per cent.

Two weeks ago The Advertiser reported how it took the HSE’s entire capital repair budget for 2010 for Longford and Westmeath just to bring the fire safety at the facility up to the minimum EU standard.

“The HIQA report on Loughloe House found that the standard of hygiene had improved significantly, that the centre was more comfortable and that patients were extremely happy and receiving care in an unrushed manner,” claimed Senator McFadden.

“I do not accept that, as a caring community, it is to anyone’s advantage to close local public facilities for the elderly. Of course, people should be allowed to choose between public and private care services and, under the Fair Deal scheme, to opt for their preferred centre. However I fervently believe that public facilities for the elderly are a critical element within local communities. I will not give up on this issue. Very often local public facilities offer a better standard of care than the private alternatives on offer. The people of Athlone have made their feelings about Loughloe House crystal clear. I am calling on the Government now to listen.”

On Tuesday the HSE reiterated its position on the closure of the unit.

“The HSE accepts that this has been a very stressful time for the residents, their families and the staff at the facility, however it should be emphasised that this decision has been taken to protect the health and welfare of the residents concerned,” said the spokesperson.

“The HSE is proceeding with the closure of the unit and continues to consult with residents and their families to assist them in accessing more suitable accommodation.”

A major problem at Loughloe has been with staffing, as three directors of nursing have left since 2009 and not been replaced. Five staff are off sick at the moment and there is an HSE-wide moratorium on recruitment. Recently, the HSE was in a position to offer six month contracts to two agency staff but neither even turned up for their interview.

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