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Connacht Tribune

Nursing unit under fire over staffing levels

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Workers at a HSE-operated community nursing home in Clifden complained there were not enough staff to meet the needs of residents during a surprise inspection by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

The visit found two ‘major’ issues of non-compliance – staffing levels and privacy and dignity for some residents forced to use commodes.

‘Moderate’ issues were also recorded relating to government and management; health and social care needs and health and safety and risk management.

HIQA inspectors made the unannounced visit to St Anne’s Community Nursing Unit on the Westport Road over two days last October. There were 23 residents there at the time, and one vacancy in the two-storey building.

In a ‘major’ non-compliance recorded on management, inspectors found there were insufficient resources to ensure “the effective delivery of care”.

“The person in charge stated that although she had found deficits in auditing the [patients’] care plans, she did not have sufficient time to enact a quality improvement plan.

“Staff members spoken with stated that they did not have adequate staff to meet the needs of residents, in particular there was a decrease in staffing levels after 6.30pm, when there is one nurse and two care assistants to meet the needs of 17 maximum-dependency residents and seven high-dependency residents,” the report reads.

It adds that the HSE failed to provide “an appropriate comprehensive response” to queries from the inspector.

HIQA also found major non-compliance with effective care and support at the centre – issues relating to the provision of toilets had not been addressed since a previous inspection.

“Residents residing in the five-bedded room do not have access to a toilet/en suite within the environs of their own bedroom space. As a consequence, the use of commodes/continence wear does not promote residents’ independence, privacy or dignity in line with the National Standards.

“In order for a current resident to access a toilet/shower they have to be assisted by hoist out onto the corridor to access a shower/bathroom/toilet. While there is a small toilet in the upper corner of the five-bedded room is only accessible to mobile residents due to its size. To use this facility, you have to pass through the private space of the resident in the corner area of the room.

“At times during the inspection, this area was found to be cramped and unsuitable for the number of people accommodated therein and the activities ongoing. There was little room to use a hoist or sit by a bed. As the wardrobes are located on entry to the room it is difficult for residents to access personal items. It is impossible to personalise your own personal space as there was no space to do this,” the report found.

In its response to a list of requirements set out, the HSE said: “We have plans in place and funding to construct a new 50-bedded unit on the grounds of St Anne’s. This is to replace the local community hospital and St. Anne’s. It will be completed by 2021.”

They added that an electronic care planning system is being introduced, which will allow more efficient use of nurses’ time on the floor, and they are “actively working on” recruiting staff, although it is a “major challenge”.

The HSE is also in the process of recruiting a Director of Nursing for the Clifden area, and hope to have this completed by May 2017.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’

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Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!

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Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea

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Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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