HSE decision marks end of era for St. Brigid’s Hospital

The inclusion of €1.3m in the HSE service plan for 2020 to provide two high support hostels for ten residents with intellectual disabilities has been welcomed by local TD, Denis Naughten.

The residents are currently accommodated in Oakgrove House in the grounds of St. Brigid’s Hospital and Denis Naughten has described the provision of high support hostels as “the end of an era for St. Brigid’s Hospital.”

“This investment will bring closure to a very sad aspect of St. Brigid’s Hospital which had to cater for people with an intellectual disability even though this was never an appropriate setting in a psychiatric hospital.

“However, staff down through the years did their very best for those in the hospital with an intellectual disability and this was again reiterated by the Inspector of Mental Health Services in 2017 when it was pointed out in areas of good practice that ‘a supportive relationship between staff and residents was evident’

“But clearly Oakgrove House, and previously St. Brigid’s Hospital, was not suitable in the long term for the care of people with an intellectual disability and this investment committed to in the 2020 HSE Service Plan is very welcome,” Deputy Naughten remarked.

It is expected that the new accommodation will be made available to the existing residents of Oakgrove House before next October.

“It has been the policy of the HSE that once replacement accommodation for the residents of Oakgrove House is developed and that building is vacated, the hospital itself and the surrounding grounds would be disposed of.

“This will then bring into play the ‘Reimagining St. Brigid’s’ report which I produced in conjunction will Ballinasloe Area Community Development (BACD ). This report was developed following a discussion-based workshop ‘Reimagining St. Brigid’s’ and outlines potential uses for the future of the St. Brigid’s campus which built a very clear consensus around the future vision for St. Brigid’s.

“The overall consensus that emerged was for a multi-use space that would draw on the mental health history of the site by creating an interactive museum and heritage site, forming a global centre of excellence around this centre with research and training facilities as well as a wellness village and trails. The need for a commercial element to drive job growth locally and regionally was acknowledged as was the potential to incorporate opportunities for training and education and both indoor and outdoor community spaces,” Deputy Naughten commented.

“The report has already been incorporated into a number of investment plans for the town of Ballinasloe and with the completion of the two high support hostels for the residents of Oakgrove House later this year, it allows for some of these proposals and plans to become a reality, creating much needed jobs in the local area,” concluded Denis Naughten.


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