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CITY TRIBUNE

No butts – UHG firm on psychiatric unit smoking ban

Dara Bradley

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Galway City Tribune – University Hospital Galway has defended its rigorous enforcement of a no-smoking policy at its new psychiatric unit, including body searches of patients for tobacco and punishing those caught smoking.

Psychiatric patients have complained that the no smoking policy at the new €20 million Adult Mental Health Unit, and its strict enforcement, is ‘draconian’. The HSE, however, said smoking is bad, and the no smoking ban is aimed at improving psychiatric patients’ physical health.

A fortnight ago, the Galway City Tribune revealed how patients were offered chocolate bribes to inform on fellow service users for smoking cigarettes outside the facility. Clients are also subject to body and locker searches for tobacco and lighters and matches.

Patients trying to ‘sneak a smoke’ said they were being watched and filmed on CCTV, and those caught smoking outside the unit are ‘punished’. The punishment involves being ordered to collect or sweep up cigarette butts outside the unit and in the garden.

Patients and mental health campaigners described the no-smoking policy and its implementation as ‘humiliating’ and ‘overzealous’.

But the HSE, in a statement issued this week, defended its no-smoking policy, and said it is “committed to reducing the use of tobacco and its harmful health effects”, as part of its Tobacco Free Campus Policy.

This policy was in place at psychiatric units in Galway, Roscommon and Ballinasloe since 2016, it said. When the new psychiatric unit opened at UHG last Summer, the HSE said it “decided to use the opportunity to implement the Tobacco Free Campus Policy more vigorously and adapt a robust approach to ensuring the site was tobacco free”.

Since the move to the new unit, the HSE said: “There is an excitement and positivity with the new surroundings, brightness, fresh smell and new resources and this is complemented by patients remaining smoke free.”

It said the policy was a “big culture change”. “While there has been some resistance to the change, we are very impressed at how well this change has been managed,” a statement said.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and the HSE’s statement in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

CITY TRIBUNE

‘Daredevil’ swimmers are a fatality waiting to happen

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – ‘Daredevil’ winter sea swimmers who dive or jump into the water in places like Blackrock during adverse weather are putting their own lives at risk – and possibly those of rescuers – by their actions, it was warned this week.

Water Safety Ireland have cautioned that the biggest single contributor to drownings in Ireland is what is known as ‘cold water shock’ – a condition caused by the sudden entry into a cold body of water.

There is now growing concern that a copycat trend is emerging with young people – without wet suits – diving or jumping into the sea in stormy or icy-cold weather.

Several people have been filmed on social media in the sea at Salthill during storms – with a number of them taking ‘running jumps’ off the diving tower at Blackrock.

Roger Sweeney, Deputy CEO of Water Safety Ireland, told the Galway City Tribune that people jumping into the sea during storms showed at best a reckless disregard for their own safety and in a worst-case scenario represented ‘a fatality waiting to happen’ for the jumpers – or the persons trying to rescue them.

“Jumping into cold water puts you at risk of cold shock which can result in immediate incapacitation and doing so in storm conditions can make it difficult to get back out of the water safely and promptly before hypothermia sets in.

“Hypothermia leads to the cooling of the muscles needed in the arms and legs to stay afloat. Drownings typically happen when someone over-estimates their ability and under-estimates the risks,” said Mr Sweeney.

Galway Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mike Swan, told the Galway City Tribune, that the key thing for all people who enjoyed the water and the sea was to carefully plan their exercise or hobby.

“Cold water shock is a real danger at this time of year for all swimmers. Be prepared – have your cap, ear plugs, mats, woolly cap [after leaving the water] and towels all in place. Check the weather forecast and check the tides – and never, ever just jump straight into the water during the colder season.”

(Photo: Diving into the water at Blackrock during Storm Bella in December)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Developer banks on boom in rental property market

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The backer of the Crown Square scheme in Mervue is planning an increase in the number of apartments in the development following a review of the economic viability of the project.

The 345 apartments will specifically target the rental market.

Crown Square Developments Ltd, which is operated by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has told Galway City Council that the amended plans will form part of a new planning application to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála under ‘Strategic Housing Development’ legislation.

According to the company, the property market has changed since it was granted permission in November 2019 for 288 apartments in three blocks ranging from five to eight storeys in height.

Mr Rhatigan has now sought planning permission for an 18% reduction in the overall size of basement levels and a reduction in car parking from 1,377 to 1,012 spaces. Cycle parking spaces will increase from 1,110 to 1,200.

The plan also involves the relocation of the vehicular and pedestrian access to the development on the Monivea Road, which will now be closer to McDonagh Avenue. The existing planned access is at the south-easternmost point of the site, but is now planned to move further west.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Former hurler has words of wisdom to help through absence of sport

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The sports psychology advice dispensed by performance and wellbeing coach, Tony Óg Regan, is not just geared towards elite and non-elite athletes – it is relevant to a virus-weary general public, too.

Take, for example, the former Galway hurler’s thoughts on the need to be proactive during this global pandemic.

“We have to be proactive around our own health and wellbeing, rather than waiting for a vaccination to drop on your lap or for things to change really quickly around the economy or whatever,” he says.

And his thoughts on consumption of news on social media will be familiar with anyone who has wasted hours down virtual rabbit holes scrolling through threads on Twitter or Facebook or videos on TikTok during lockdown.

“It’s okay to be aware of the news and the case numbers and vaccinations but we can’t be putting 90% or 95% of our energy and focus on that every day, because depending on how we are interpreting that information it could be driving stress and anxiety levels,” he says.

The advice is to be aware of the requirements around restrictions but ‘just don’t let it take up every waking hour and every waking thought’.

“Consciously and subconsciously we could be taking in a lot of news sources. When we scroll online, they reckon we take in 174 newspapers’ worth of information every day. Some of that could trigger anxiety and stress levels so it’s important we’re aware of that, and maybe don’t do things unconsciously.

“So recognise that you’re going on the phone now for 20 minutes, and you’re not on it for two hours and you’ve forgotten what you’re doing and it’s triggered anxiety.

“Focusing on things that we can control and influence and being proactive around health and movement and our conversations, what we’re listening to, what we’re reading. Those elements are so important to regulate stress and anxiety at this time,” says Tony Óg.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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