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Psychiatric Unit shortcomings pinpointed by inspection



The Mental Health Commission has identified shortcomings at the Psychiatric Unit of University Hospital Galway.

The problems, which were identified following an unannounced inspection late last year, include issues in relation to patients’ privacy and dignity, use of restraints, as well as criticisms of the physical environment of the unit.

The report, issuing a list of corrective action to be undertaken, was published by the commission last week.

The unit received a ‘non-compliant, poor’ rating in relation to ensuring residents’ privacy and dignity is appropriately respected at all times.

“Male residents were required to walk through the female side to access the male toilets and showers. There was one shower and one bath on the female side and two showers on the male side of the approved centre. All showers and bathrooms were lockable but could be opened by staff in an emergency. One resident reported sharing two toilets with 18 female residents,” the report noted. It also said that a corridor beside the male bedrooms was visible from the road outside and the car park.

In response, the hospital said it has expanded the hours of opening for the High Observational Area, which provides gender neutral areas and so increases toilet and shower facilities. It said it plans to take action to obscure visibility to the unit from the outside.

The unit also scored a ‘non-compliant, poor’ for the state of the building, which was a redesigned medical ward in use since the 1970s.

“The physical environment of the approved centre did not enable the residents to engage in meaningful occupations. There was a lack of space for the residents and the environment was very busy and noisy. The approved centre was non-compliant in this regulation as it was not in a good state of repair with worn paint, malodourous toilets, furniture stored on the corridors and urinals in a poor state of repair. There was no clinical space for general health reviews,” the report said.

In response, UHG said a new purpose built Acute Mental Health Unit is currently being built and is due to be opened in the last quarter of this year.

The hospital added: “We have minor capital funding identified for painting, refurbishment and ventilation in areas identified in the report.” These minor renovations were due to be completed by the end of March, 2016.

The inspectors found fault in relation to consent and treatment where it again scored a ‘non compliant, poor’ rating. There were 11 patients involuntarily detained within the approved unit and only two of these patients were detained for longer than three months. Both patients had signed a consent form to state that they understood and agreed to take medication.

However, there was no indication in the consent as to the specific medication the patient had consented to take. This is a requirement of Section 60 of the Mental Health Act 2001. As the consent process for two patients was not in accordance with Section 60 of the Mental Health Act 2001, the approved centre was in breach of consent to treatment,” the report stated.

The centre was also found to be non-compliant in relation to the physical restraint of patients.

The report said: “The approved centre was non-compliant as the forms for episodes of physical restraint were incomplete; security staff were assisting with restraint when other staff members were present; next of kin were not informed on one episode and there was no evidence of a medical review completed within three hours as per the code of practice guidelines.”

Despite the shortcomings, the unit complied with its obligations under the vast majority of areas inspected.

The inspection of the 45-bed unit took place over four days last November. The previous inspection took place in March 2014, and identified a number of shortcomings, including care plans for residents.

The latest report pointed out the hospital had made several improvements since the previous visit.

It said: “Since the 2014 inspection, there had been a significant improvement in individual care planning. All 44 residents had an individual care plan on inspection and a standardised format was being used. Each resident had needs, goals, interventions and resources identified. Monthly audits had been sent to the Mental Health Commission as per the condition on their registration.

“It was evident that the activity programme was tailored to residents’ needs and changed when it was appropriate. There was positive feedback from residents and there was good attendance at these groups. It was recognised that the approved centre was in the process of recruiting new staff. The approved centre had removed ligature points that were identified in an audit.”

Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area



A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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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