VULNERABLE residents at a care home are facing an uncertain future after it emerged they are to be moved over health and safety fears.
The 16 residents at Toghermore House in Tuam, Co Galway, receive mental health care at the residence on a short- to medium-term basis.
However, their families were stunned after finding out the home was to shut following a health and safety report that raised concerns about fire and safety standards.
Residents will be moved to alternative accommodation by mid-January.
Fears were being expressed that some of the residents will be moved to St Brigid's Psychiatric Hospital in Ballinasloe.
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.
Minister for State Kathleen Lynch visited the expanded Toghermore Campus in 2011 following a €300,000 refurbishment.
It is understood that it could cost around €250,000 to bring the care home up to scratch.
And staff fear the unit will be shut for good because of a lack of funds.
Fianna Fail TD for Galway East Michael Kitt called on the HSE to make funding immediately available for the necessary improvements, rather than "disrupting people at short notice" and he described the move as "harsh" for residents and their families.
"A large amount of money was spent on this unit and it is hard to believe that just one year later we would be facing its closure. The centre is doing a fantastic job and the families of residents are very happy with it. I don't believe we should be moving these people at such short notice when we haven't sourced an alternative centre for them," he added.
An HSE West spokesman said it was keeping the matter under "constant review" and was making every effort to ensure the quality and safety of all services delivered to patients and staff.
"An independent report shows shortfalls in relation to fire safety that need to be addressed immediately.
"A local steering group has been formed to address the challenges outlined in the report. This may mean that patients have to be relocated to another part of the service," it said.
It added that the process had only begun and would involve input from staff and residents.