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Connacht Tribune

Clean bill of health for mental health facility

Stephen Corrigan



The mental health unit at St Brigid’s Healthcare Campus in Ballinasloe has received a glowing report from the Mental Health Commission in inspection reports published this week.

The Creagh Suite was noted as having a number of “best practice” initiatives in place when inspectors called – reaching a compliance with regulations level of 97%, a significant improvement on 73% in 2018.

The 14-bed unit had 14 compliance regulations that were rated “excellent”, including the provision of individual care plans; the provision of information and regulation; and privacy.

The report remarks: “The enthusiasm and commitment to delivering a quality service was evident”.

At the time of inspection, just nine of the unit’s 14 beds were filled. The centre is described as “a long-stay, continuing-care facility for residents living with dementia and experiencing psychological and behavioral symptoms of that illness”.

There was only one area where Creagh was sub-standard and that was staffing – with some staff not trained in areas they should have been, including fire safety; basic life support; management of violence and aggression; or in the mandatory training in Mental Health Act 2001.

However, the inspection did find that “mechanical restraint” was only used where a resident posed an enduring risk of harm to themselves or to others, or to address a clinical need.

“It was only used when less restrictive alternatives were not suitable. Its use was compliant with the rules governing the use of seclusion and mechanical restraint”.

The risk level associated with the rate of non-compliance on staffing had been identified as “moderate” in 2017 and 2018, but had improved to “low” this year.

Therapeutic services and programmes provided by the service were said to be “evidence-based”, reflective of good practice guidelines and “met and assessed the needs of residents, as documented in the residents’ individual care plan”.

“Activities provided included hand massage; dance therapy; art therapy; life story work; one-to-one social work; psychology; occupational therapy; medical and nursing. Chiropody; podiatry; speech and language; therapy; and dietetics were also provided for. A record was maintained of participation, engagement and outcomes achieved in therapeutic services or programmes, within residents’ clinical files.”

It was stated that accommodation for residents comprised of two three-bed rooms; two double rooms and four single rooms.

“Resident bedrooms were personalised, and they were clean and bright. There was a spacious and well-equipped dining room which was also used for recreational and therapy activities. There was a multi-sensory room for residents and a conservatory-style day room opposite the dining room. Residents in the approved centre had access to a secure, dementia-friendly garden.”

The inspection report for St Brigid’s Ballinasloe was published alongside those of Lakeview Unit in Naas, Co Kildare, and the mental health unit is St Brigid’s Hospital in Ardee, Co Louth – both of which had registered a high volume of non-compliance.

Inspectors visited Creagh Unit over a three day period, using a combination of document review, observation of practices and interview to access compliance with the regulations.

They endeavour to speak to residents to find out about their experience; talk with staff and management to find out how they plan, deliver and monitor the care and support services that are provided to people living in the centre; observe daily practice to ensure what they are being told is happening in practice; and review documents to see if appropriate records are being kept in line with the standards they are being told exist.

Commenting on the findings, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission John Farrelly said this batch of inspections had identified inconsistencies across the country in the provision of mental health services.

“The contrast between a centre with 97% compliance in Galway and less than satisfactory findings in Louth and Kildare is stark.

“The Commission’s evidence is that the mental health service is inconsistent across the county despite being run by the same provider [the HSE]. This indicates a deficit in the governance and management of our mental health services,” said Mr Farrelly.

The management of Creagh Unit will now have to provide a corrective and preventative action plan to address concerns raised over staff training.

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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