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Report may force nursing home closure



Date Published: 19-Jan-2010

THE last remaining state-owned community nursing home in Galway City could be forced to close because it would not be “economically viable” to make the necessary alterations to bring it in line with national best practice, the Sentinel has learned.

An inspection of St Francis Nursing Home on Newcastle Road has raised serious concerns about the staff levels at the residence for older people – the facility has now stopped taking any more residents because of the Government ban on staff recruitment.

The report by HIQA (Health, Information AND Quality Authority) was also scathing of the condition the building is in, claiming the lack of shower and bathing facilities has affected residents’ dignity and health needs.

Following the publication of the report, health chiefs at the Health Service Executive are now seriously considering closing the nursing home as a long stay residence and may be used for Day Care, Health Care Clinics and Respite facilities instead. A new 50-bed nursing home may be built on an alternative site.

The HIQA inspection found that the nursing home, which is 33 years old, has limited bathing, showering and toilet facilities and the single bedrooms “were small in size with no en suite facilities” which meant that some residents had to queue for one of the limited number of toilets available.

There was one wheelchair accessible toilet provided for use by ten male residents who had single bedrooms. Two other toilets, which were not wheelchair accessible, were available for use by female residents who resided in single bedrooms.

Meanwhile, a ban on recruitment was also affecting the operation of the nursing home. Staff working at the facility reported to inspectors “that the workload was very high and that there were insufficient staff numbers and skill-mix on duty”.

In addition they stated that usually there are one or two nurses or four care assistants on-duty during the day, when there should be four nurses and four care assistants.

In response to the report, the HSE, the provider of the nursing home, said it was “awaiting national direction on recruitment of staff in 2010”.

It said there are now 30 residents at the home and currently eight of the 38 beds are closed. Eight staff have retired from the nursing home since 2008.

“We have completed HR forms and submitted them to the Local Health Manager for replacement staff. Regrettably there is no recruitment permitted in the public sector at this point and we do not know when this is likely to change,” it says in response.

HIQA inspectors had noted that there were no records maintained of any occupational therapy assessment or review, recommendations made or interventions required. In response the HSE said “the reduced number of beds at St Francis will not make it viable for the full-time continuation of Occupational Therapy there.”

In relation to the lack of toilets, the HSE said one room between every three will have to close in order to facilitate the installation of toilets, requiring an investment of up to €250,000.

It added: “This brings into question the future viability of St Francis Nursing Home Unit continuing as a long stay residential as the reduction in bed numbers to comply with the required facilities will reduce our bed numbers below 30 and therefore we will not have the economies of scale to make it a viable nursing home in the future as the price of a bed will be more than €1,300 per week.”

For the complete report see page 3 of this week’s Sentinel

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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