Independent probe call after HSE separates mental health patients
A COMMUNITY group is calling for an independent investigation by the Mental Health Commission following the Health Service Executive's refusal of six houses for the former residents of a sheltered hostel.
The HSE closed down the Island View high-support hostel in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, last month, relocating its six remaining residents.
Three were moved to an apartment complex in the town centre and two to the community hospital.
However, one elderly man was moved to a nursing home in Kenmare, 78km away.
The Iveragh Mental Health Association, a voluntary group set up to support mental health services in the area, has accused the HSE of ignoring its own guidelines.
Cahersiveen Social Services, a not-for-profit voluntary group, had offered the HSE six two-bedroom bungalows they are building in the town on the grounds that it would create a "cluster".
Spokesman for Iveragh Mental Health Association Christy O'Connell has also accused junior minister Kathleen Lynch, who has responsibility for mental health, of going back on her word that all residents of the unit would be accommodated in their own area.
"How is it accommodating someone in their own area when you place a man in his 70s in a home that's miles away?" Mr O'Connell said.
"He has no family and no one to speak up for him. He used to walk the roads here every day, never did a bit of harm to anyone and now he's confined in a residential unit in a place he doesn't know."
Mr O'Connell said the houses being offered by Cahersiveen Social Services overlook the marina, while the development has a good mix of residents including elderly people and families.
The houses are near other key services, including a community bus and the meals on wheels.
It's also located near the church, GAA grounds and shops.
The matter was also raised by local councillor and chairman of Cahersiveen Social Services Paul O'Donoghue at a meeting of Kerry County Council.
The council has invited Ms Lynch to address it on the issue.
Meanwhile, the HSE said all residents had been appropriately accommodated following an assessment by a multi-disciplinary team led by a consultant psychiatrist.
A statement said there had been ongoing consultation with the residents, their families, staff and the "wider supporting network of services" regarding the re-accommodation of residents.
Area manager Michael Fitzgerald said although proposals from voluntary groups were welcome, the HSE had to ensure it did not end up developing "a form of institutional care" that was completely against the "recovery model of service" that was required.