Councillors in the Municipal District (MD) of Donegal expressed their anger and disappointment at the HSE’s failure to address the reduced service at Seaview House.
The centre located in Mountcharles provides respite care for children and adults with intellectual disabilities in south west Donegal. It gives around 100 families caring for a loved one a much-deserved break. Seaview House has been operating a reduced service since last summer, with no sign of a return to full service.
Councillors in the Donegal MD had previously called for the HSE to send a representative to the monthly MD meeting. The service agreed to send someone to the January meeting. However, the lady who was due to attend cancelled at short notice due to being sick.
While the councillors accepted that the lady was genuinely sick, they felt the HSE had yet again let families down. They felt someone else could have attended in her place.
Furthermore, the statement which was issued by the HSE in lieu of having someone present did nothing to reassure councillors that any concrete plans were being put in place.
It read: “The Health Service Executive are currently reconfiguring service provision to put in place a sustainable planned respite service which will meet current and emerging need for the population of south west Donegal.
“We are working in consultation with the national system and envisage that this will realise a considerable increase in the provision of respite services.”
The statement went on to say: “HSE management is aware of the importance of this service for families in south west Donegal and apologise for the difficulties that this situation is causing for everyone involved.”
Cllr Noel Jordan (SF) said a senior HSE manager had last year given families a commitment to resolve the problems.
“The parents have been very patient, but this is not acceptable,” said Cllr Jordan. “There are two staff on maternity leave and they haven’t been replaced. The HSE say full service will resume. Do we have to wait to June or July when these people come back?”
He called for a letter to be written back to the HSE.
Cllr Barry O’Neill (FG) agreed, saying: “It is a very disappointing response. I can’t understand why another person couldn’t come from the HSE. There are enough people working there.”
Referring to the statement he said: “How does that read to a mother who is trying to get respite for a severely challenged young person? How does that last line read to them?”
The councillor said he had been trying to get a meeting with the HSE since last year.
“Six months later I have not got a reply,” he said. “I came in here two months ago and asked that the HSE attend. I was delighted to get a letter during the week to say there was someone coming today. It is very disappointing to go back to the families and say there was another no show.
“What I say now is to get their house in order and not take a hand at the most vulnerable, challenged people in society.”
He asked that the HSE would send a representative to the next meeting.
“No show in November, no show in December,” he said. “Someone could have come here today and given hope to these families from Glencolmcille to Bundoran.
“I am calling on HSE to cop themselves on.”
The quality of care at Seaview House was not being questioned. Indeed, a recent HIQA report praised staff for the high standard of patient-centred care. It is the significant reduction in the availability of this much-needed care that is the issue. And that is despite promises from as high as Ministerial level that the problems would be resolved.
Council official Bridie McBrearty said she would bring the members’ concerns to the HSE and see if they were in a position to come to the next MD meeting.
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