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Connacht Tribune

Clean bill of health for mental health facility




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

Future of beef industry in doubt

Francis Farragher



Minister Michael Creed
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed

STARK warnings have been issued this week that ongoing protests outside meat plants by one splinter farming organisation could jeopardise the whole future of the Irish cattle and beef industry.

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, in an open letter to farmer protesters, said that over recent weeks their message had been heard loud and clear, leading to the agreement that was hammered out after 36 hours of talks last weekend.

“Over the weekend, huge efforts were made to reach an agreement, to signal to you, that not only have your voices been heard – but that things are going to change. That is why the leaders of the IFA, Macra na Feirme, ICMSA, ICSA, INHFA and the Beef Plan Movement backed the agreement.

“That is why the representatives of the Independent Farmers of Ireland said that they agreed to recommend the deal to those of you at the factory gates who sent them. All of these people who represent the vast majority of farmers in Ireland believed that this was a decent start on a way forward,” said Minister Creed.

He pleaded with farmers still protesting (the Independent Farmers of Ireland) not to be responsible for the destruction of the Irish beef industry. “Those of you who are minded to continue the protest must now be fully aware of your responsibilities. The future of the Irish beef sector is in your hands . . . the futures of your fellow farmers are in your hands,” said Minister Creed.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, said that the time was right to ‘give the agreement a chance’ as many beef farmers were coming under the most extreme financial pressure. “We need to get cattle moving again. The message has been delivered as regards the plight of beef farmers. An agreement has been reached – we have to give it a chance,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Portumna seeks slice of Downton Abbey action!




Portumna connection…Princess Mary (actress Kate Phillips) in Downton Abbey.

The release of its first silver screen drama has seen the spread of Downton Abbey fever all over again – and one local Junior Minister wants to see Galway cash in on its new connection.

Because, according to Ciaran Cannon, the appearance in the movie of Princess Mary – a visitor to the fictional Crawley family seat – creates a direct Downton link to Portumna Castle.

And the Minister for the Diaspora and International Development is urging the tourism sector in Portumna to make use of the town`s connection to boost visitor numbers.

“Fans of ‘Downton Abbey’ will be flocking to movie theatres in droves to see the hit drama revived for the big-screen and interestingly, from the point of view of East Galway`s history, the movie version features the real-life character of Princess Mary,” he said.

Because the real-life character of Princess Mary visited Portumna in 1928; her husband was the last owner of Portumna Castle prior to it being acquired by the State.

The new cinematic outing for Downton Abbey sees the servants and aristocrats of the famous house receive a visit from King George V and his wife Queen Mary, prompting much panic and excitement.

One of the most prominent royals featured in the film is that of Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood – played by Peaky Blinders actress Kate Phillips.

The real Princess Mary was the only daughter of King George V and his wife Queen Mary. She had two older brothers – the future kings Edward VIII and George VI, the latter being the father of Queen Elizabeth II.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway mum on signs of heart valve disease – and how to get back to full life

Denise McNamara



Una Fahey at home in Kilbeacanty. Photo:Andrew Downes

Una Fahey had spent two days in bed floored by a vicious ‘flu – or so she thought. Her youngest son Enda was to play in the Galway County Minor Hurling Quarter-Final that day in 2017 but she was unable to focus on the match, she so ill with a high temperature and sore bones.

“I wouldn’t be one to go to the doctor with the ‘flu because you could spread germs – I don’t know what made me go but I didn’t want to be in bed anymore and wanted to get better quicker,” she reflects from her home in Kilbeacanty, outside Gort.

She attended her local GP clinic which was staffed by a doctor on call that Saturday. Her condition was so serious that an ambulance was called and she was dispatched to University Hospital Galway.

Tests revealed she had bacterial endocarditis – or heart valve disease. Within 48 hours she had both her mitral and aortic valves replaced with mechanical valves.

Her illness came as a complete shock. She was 57, healthy, and looking forward to some free time as the last of her five boys was leaving home to go to college.

“I had no warning really. I’m still not 100%. I get very tired – tiredness is actually the worst thing about it,” Una reveals.

Croí, the Heart Disease and Stroke Charity, is urging people aged 65 and over not to mistake the symptoms of Heart Valve Disease for old age during European Heart Valve Disease Awareness week.

Read full interview and advice in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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