Protest as patients are forced to move
Nurses yesterday joined relatives in criticising the short notice given to vulnerable elderly residents who had to leave a HSE-run nursing home for safety reasons.
The 35 residents, many of whom are immobile, had to be moved from St Vincent's Care Centre in Althlone due to fears that it was unsafe because of an electrical fire risk.
News that residents would have to be moved miles away only emerged late on Tuesday night.
The patients were dispersed to other nursing homes in Longford and Offaly yesterday afternoon.
The move led to a stand-off with relatives who objected to the major disruption. They refused their consent to have their elderly relatives uprooted.
The transfers eventually took place with a written agreement that the patients will be allowed to return to the home once the electrical fault is fixed.
Ann Burke, nursing representative, said the provision of alternative care should have been planned and emergency contingency arrangements made due to the frailty of the residents.
A Hiqa inspection report found that while the healthcare and other needs of the residents were generally met, the lay-out of the centre with multi-occupancy rooms and communal space significantly impacted on their privacy and dignity.
A proposed plan to refurbish three single rooms by the end of October last year was not completed. Some parts of the premises occupied by residents were in disrepair.
Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee, said that for "health and safety reasons it has become necessary to transfer residents at St Vincent's Care Centre in Athlone to alternative accommodation on a phased basis".
She said that "communication with residents and staff began yesterday (Tuesday) evening and will continue through the process... St Vincent's Care Centre will re-open as soon as possible."