by mary O’Connor
A day centre for older people in Connemara, which has been closed for more than a month, will re-open three days a week.
However, Deputy Catherine Connolly says it is not unaceptable that the facility in Áras Mhic Dara in Carraroe is not open fulltime. She intends to raise the issue with the Minister for Health Simon Harris.
“The day-centre closed on the 5th of March and over a month later remains closed,” she says. “This is a centre in the heart of the Gaeltacht which provides an essential service to people aged 70 to 98. Up to March 5th this year it was open five days a week between the hours of 9am and 4pm catering for approximately 12 people per day, some of whom travel by minibus and others by car.
“In addition, the day-centre is located in a public nursing home where 15 out of a total of 47 beds remain empty for an extraordinary length of time.”
Deputy Connolly says how HSE management could stand over 15 empty beds while University Hospital Galway is at breaking point is “simply disgraceful”.
She says she has repeatedly contacted the HSE for an explanation as to why the centre remains closed and has, to date, not received a satisfactory response.
“There is an onus on the HSE to clarify this situation as a matter of urgency. The absence of replacement staff is not a problem that happened overnight yet it would appear that there is no plan in place to deal with such a contingency.
“The Health Executive West’s constant refrain of lack of staff as a reason for the empty beds has to change. It needs to look at a more effective way of advertising locally, including offering enhanced packages that might be made available to attract nurses to work through the medium of Irish. Indeed, the executive end up relying on nurses supplied by a private company, for whom finding nurses does not appear to be a problem, at a much higher cost.”
She maintains that as a result of ongoing pressure the day centre is to open on a limited basis three days a week.
“While welcoming this news it is imperative that the centre resumes full service and that an effective local nursing recruitment campaign is initiated without delay.”