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Six-bed extension opens at Galway Hospice

Enda Cunningham

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A six-bedroom extension to Galway Hospice has been officially opened, bringing the total number of beds at the palliative care facility to 18.

The expansion comes at a time of unprecedented demand for hospice services – the facility was full to capacity as soon as the beds were opened.

The extension opened to this public on January 25, and was officially launched this week by Frank Fahy, Mayor of Galway, and Pete Roche, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council.

The next step of the expansion of services will be the roll-out of additional Day Care services, and there has already been an increase in Home Care Clinical Nurse Specialists so that more patients can be cared-for in their own homes.

Chief Executive Mary Nash praised the public for their support since the inception of the hospice, but pointed out that it continues to require €1.8m in funding each year for existing services.

“The people of Galway have been phenomenal in their support of Galway Hospice, support that not alone built Galway Hospice, but fully-funded the Home Care and Day Care services since their inception.

“The HSE has agreed to meet the full running costs of the additional services, a decision that was immensely important in enabling Galway Hospice to proceed with funding these capital improvements.

“This does not relieve Galway Hospice of the continuing requirement to raise €1.8 million each year towards funding existing services, but it is hugely welcomed as it enables us to significantly address the unrelenting demand that currently exists for hospice services within our community.”

She said the new bedrooms are the first increase in bed numbers since the hospice opened its doors to inpatients in December 1997.

“It comes at a time of unprecedented demand for hospice services. As soon as the new facilities opened in late January 2016, the new extension was immediately full to capacity, such has been the waiting list for these services.

“The physical environment at Galway Hospice has also changed, with a new signalled entrance from the Dublin Road, the provision of 25 additional parking spaces, the reconfiguration of the gardens, and the provision of a new enclosed sensory garden especially for Day Care patients,” said Ms Nash.

She said Home Care services remain at the heart of their specialist palliative care provision.

“In 2015, the Home Care team cared-for 642 patients in the home, through 6,325 home visits.  2015 was also a very busy year for the Inpatient Unit, with 291 admissions resulting in a bed occupancy of 92%, and an average length of stay of 13 days.

“These have been the highest levels of service ever provided by Galway Hospice, responding to the unrelenting demand for these services. Now that more inpatient beds and additional Home Care staffing have been put in place, 2016 will undoubtedly be another record-breaking year for the services, but – more importantly – a year in which the services can better meet the need for hospice/palliative care services within our community.

“Galway Hospice continues to receive an increasing number on non-cancer referrals to its services. In 2015, 28% of new patients taken on by the Home Care service had a non-cancer diagnosis, with 14% of patients admitted to the specialist Inpatient Unit having a non-cancer diagnosis.

“The extension of palliative care services to patients with a non-cancer diagnosis is following a similar pattern nationwide, and will continue to be a very valuable support to these patients for whom palliative care has proven to be very beneficial in addressing their symptom and care management,” said Ms Nash.

CITY TRIBUNE

Designated drinking zones in city centre are ‘only solution’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Properly staffed designated areas are the only solution to out-of-control outdoor boozing, according to the city councillor who drafted the city’s drinking bylaws.

Cllr Peter Keane told the Galway City Tribune it was likely that councillors would seek to ‘tweak’ the existing bylaws in the near future to find a long-term solution that would enable young people to ‘enjoy a drink outdoors in a safe and controlled environment’, not just now, but in the future too.

To avoid a repeat of scenes around Spanish Arch over recent weekends, the Fianna Fáil councillor said providing areas where the consumption of alcohol was allowed would enable Gardaí to properly enforce the drinking bylaws throughout the rest of the city.

He said he could ‘absolutely appreciate the concerns of residents’ in the Claddagh and elsewhere where anti-social behaviour including urinating in gardens ‘and worse’ had been a blight in recent weeks, but said with proper control, those worst excesses could be avoided.

In the first ten days of June, 83 on-the-spot fines were issued in the city for drinking in a public place.

And last Saturday night, Gardaí closed off the Quincentenary Bridge after hundreds of young people gathered on the carriageway and turned it into a “highly-dangerous road traffic risk situation”.

“Control is the key word for me. Gardaí don’t have the resources, nor do they have the appetite as far as I can see, to deal with the lack of control there has been during the recent good weather.
“If you were to designate, say for example the Spanish Arch or a green area in Salthill, where the bylaws didn’t apply, you could put a number of wardens in place there to control the situation. You could provide adequate bins and toilets, and enough bodies to staff it, and that would allow gardaí to police the bylaws elsewhere,” said Cllr Keane.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and coverage of the re-opening of the hospitality sector and outdoor dining, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Dispute simmers between businesses and Council over outdoor spaces

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Friction between businesses and local government over the reclaiming of public space to facilitate outside hospitality marred the beginning of the city’s ‘outdoor summer’.

Galway City Council has come under fire over its handling of plans by bars and restaurants to use street furniture to facilitate outdoor dining and drinking.

Most city watering holes and eateries resumed trading on Bank Holiday Monday – serving outdoors only – for the first time since Christmas, and the authorities reported that it was successful for the most part, although it needed time to ‘bed in’.

The city vintners’ group said its members with adequate outdoor space were happy to be back and described the mood as ‘euphoric’ in places.

But several outlets expressed disappointment with the Council.

In Eyre Square, the Skeff Late Bar and Kitchen claimed it had to cancel 200 advance bookings – up to 800 people – for this week, after the Council refused permission for “extended outdoor seating”.

On Middle Street, Sangria Tapas Restaurant lashed the Council for refusing it permission to use certain types of awning and windbreakers to facilitate outdoor dining. “Surely the powers that be can take time to support the industry that supports the city?” its proprietor said in a complaint to City Hall.

‘Back the West’, businesses criticised the Council for rowing back on promises to provide additional outdoor space on Dominick Street Lower and Dominick Street Upper, in time for outdoor hospitality’s reopening on June 7.
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

Council chief: ‘landlords see 4% rent increase cap as a target’

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said that the 4% annual cap on residential rent increases is now seen as a target by many landlords.

Brendan McGrath said that affordability continues to be a major problem for renters in the city and that an increasing number of people availing of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme have to pay ‘top ups’ to their landlords.

The HAP scheme replaces rent supplement for those with a long-term housing need – the individual finds a private rented accommodation within specific rent caps and the Council pays the landlord directly. The tenant then pays a rent to the Council based on their weekly household income.

The maximum monthly rents under the scheme range from €330 for an adult in shared accommodation to €900 for a single parent or couple with three kids.

Based on their household size, tenants can also apply for a 20% extra ‘discretionary’ payment on top of their HAP payment.

However, Mr McGrath said many on the HAP scheme in Galway have to pay top ups to their landlords.

“Rents as a percentage of income is increasing and affordability remains a major problem for the city’s renters. The majority of HAP tenants require additional discretionary payments to assist them in maintaining their tenancies, particularly single person households.

“An increasing number of HAP tenants now have to pay top ups to their landlords even with the 20% extra HAP discretionary payment applied for their particular household size,” Mr McGrath said in a report to councillors.
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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