Local politicians call on Harris to honour his commitment to St Joseph’s Care Home

Local politicians have called on Minister for Health and Wicklow TD Simon Harris to honour his commitment to ensure appropriate funding is provided to St Joseph’s Dementia Care Home in Shankill.

Speaking in the Dáil last month, Harris promised to provide the funding necessary to keep the dedicated dementia care centre open.

Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has called on Harris to keep his promise by ensuring the care home’s doors remain open.

“Last month I questioned the Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil about the threatened closure of St. Joseph’s. He gave categorical assurances that the funding would be provided to keep the doors open. The current situation which has been caused by the gross underfunding of St Joseph’s by the government is causing anxiety, stress and uncertainty for the service users, their families and all the staff in the facility.

“Minister Harris must honour the commitment he gave in the Dáil and immediately intervene to ensure that the staff in St. Joseph’s can continue to do the excellent work that they do and that the service is maintained and protected to give certainty to some of the most vulnerable citizens in the State.

“There are 55,000 people in Ireland living with dementia and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years. We therefore, need increased funding for dementia services and we need to see the development of more services specifically for dementia care, not less,” said Brady.

Social Democrats Councillor from Greystones Jennifer Whitmore has written to the Minister for Health asking to ensure interim funding will be provided.

“Only a few short weeks ago, Minister Harris made the welcome statement that the “doors will not close” on St. Josephs. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case, and the management at St. Joesph’s have confirmed to families and staff this weekend that it will stop taking residential admissions with immediate effect.

“This cannot be allowed happen. There are 60 people living in St. Josephs, and many others that use the day service, that rely on the excellent care they receive there, as do their families. We cannot underestimate the positive difference a model service like St. Joseph’s can have on someone suffering from dementia. I have personal experience of a loved one living with dementia and the kind of dementia-specific care that is provided at St. Josephs can radically improve a person’s circumstances and brings incredible relief to loved ones as a result.

“The uncertainty that the residents and family members have gone through over the last few weeks since St. Josephs first raised their funding concerns in the public arena must end now. It is not fair that families, who already have incredible stress and worry placed on them, now have to worry about whether they have to locate an alternative home for their loved ones. Minister Harris needs to ensure funding is provided and that he keep his promise that the doors to St. Joseph’s remain open,” said Whitmore.

St Joseph’s, Ireland’s largest dementia-specific nursing home, revealed last month that it will be forced to cease its vital day-care service facility from next January, and gradually wind down the entire facility unless proper public funding is forthcoming for 2020.

On Monday, management at the specialist dementia care facility informed staff and families of people relying on its services that it has been left with no option but to cease residential admissions with immediate effect.

Earlier this month, Simon Harris met with representatives of St Joseph’s Hospital and again assured the hospital, patients and their families that St Joseph’s Hospice will stay open.

Speaking after the meeting, Harris said – “St Joseph’s will stay open – the doors will not close.

“I met with representatives of St Josephs this week and assured them the hospital will remain open. I know this will be the case as this week the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund have been engaging and meeting with St Josephs to discuss their funding needs.

“I want to assure patients and their families that St Josephs is safe and that their concerns will be addressed,” concluded Harris.

Saint Joseph’s Shankill is home to 60 people living with dementia and provides two respite beds and an additional 120 day care places per week but has been operating at a significant and unsustainable deficit for over seven years.

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