New psychiatric unit signals a new era in mental health service delivery

Cllr Padraig Conneely; Barbara Forde, Mental Health Services Galway; Tony Canavan, chief officer, Community Healthcare West; and Cllr Mary Hoade, the former chairperson of the Regional Health Forum West pictured at the opening of the new adult mental unit in Galway.

Cllr Padraig Conneely; Barbara Forde, Mental Health Services Galway; Tony Canavan, chief officer, Community Healthcare West; and Cllr Mary Hoade, the former chairperson of the Regional Health Forum West pictured at the opening of the new adult mental unit in Galway.

T he new acute adult mental health unit, which opened in the grounds of University Hospital Galway recently, represents a major step forward for local psychiatric services, the former chairperson of the HSE West's regional health forum said this week.

Cllr Mary Hoade said the multi million euro, 50 bed facility replaced an old "not fit for purpose" unit. "I had the opportunity to have a look at the new building in mid June before the patients moved in. I welcome the fact that it is a very new modern in-patient unit. While it is a multi million euro project it is definitely value for money.

"It is a bright, nice, therapeutic environment for both patients and staff. The bed numbers have increased from 45 to 50 and it is located on nice grounds. I welcome also that it is a smoke free zone. A big thing for me is that it is located on the grounds of UHG which enables patients to avail of other hospital services."

Tony Canavan, the chief officer of Community Healthcare West, said the new unit introduces a new era in the delivery of mental health services in Galway.

"This is a substantial new multi-million euro capital development for people experiencing severe mental disorders necessitating inpatient care; built to the highest possible standards, and in accordance with Mental Health Commission requirements.

"The new inpatient unit provides a modern, safe, therapeutic environment, which will greatly enhance the capacity of Galway Roscommon Mental Health Services to work with service users and their families to achieve recovery from mental disorders."

He said the facility was in line with implementing national policies and best international practice on mental health care, delivering consultant-led, multi-disciplinary inpatient acute mental health care in a modern open setting.

Serving a population of about 220,000 people in Galway, the new facility represents an increase of five acute inpatient beds. This brings bed numbers to 50, incorporating wards dedicated to adult, high observation, and later life patients. Offering en-suite rooms allowing for personal space and privacy, the unit also has separate landscaped outdoor areas for each ward, with dedicated spaces for social, communal and therapeutic activities.

The continued co-location of the new unit on the UHG campus, in line with national mental health policy ‘A Vision for Change’, will maintain a close liaison with the emergency department and other medical specialities on the GUH campus. The unit also has close links with the National University of Ireland Galway and will provide academic training and continuing professional education for medical, nursing and allied health care professionals.

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