FAMILIES of vulnerable mental-health residents who are to be moved from their accommodation have urged the HSE to reverse the decision.
Relatives of patients at the Toghermore House facility in Tuam, Co Galway, have insisted that the move will have a detrimental impact on the 16 residents and will destroy the community they have built up.
The families are being supported by staff at the facility who have hit out at the move and questioned the reasons behind it.
The move to shut the 18-bed mental-health residential unit follows an independent fire and safety study in September, delivered to the HSE last month.
It found the current facility did not meet the minimum fire and safety standards and highlighted shortfalls in relation to fire safety that need to be addressed with immediate effect.
However, this has been disputed by family and staff. "We believe the push to move residents may have more to do with freeing up office space at Toghermore House than any concerns about fire safety," said one staff member, who did not wish to be named.
Families have also raised their doubts about the decision to move clients.
"The place is like a hotel. They spent a fortune doing it up just a few years back and I can't believe the issues are so serious that the home needs to close," said Vincent Furey, whose brother Thomas lives in the home.
The HSE denied claims that the building would be turned into office space, insisting that no decision had been taken on its future use.
A spokesperson said: "We believe it is not suitable for patients but it has not been decided what it will be used for. Currently we are focusing on the patients."