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Connacht Tribune

Nursing unit under fire over staffing levels

Enda Cunningham



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

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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