Carrick-on-Shannon Municipal District councillors have vowed to continue to fight for the return of elderly day services to Arus Carolan in Mohill.
Speaking at Monday's MD meeting, Cathaoirleach, Cllr Thomas Mulligan said “I am not going to let this lie. I will see this through until such time as day services are back in Mohill.”
The comments came after the Municipal District received correspondence from Martin Collum, general manager for services for older persons in the CHO1 area.
The letter was in response to queries raised about changes to Mohill's service. The letter also included a response to an invitation extended to Mr Collum to attend the December Municipal District meeting.
Councillors said there were “very disappointed” by the letter from Mr Collum and were especially disappointed by his response to their invitation.
In the letter Mr Collum states: “In relation to your invitation to attend the Municipal District Meeting on Monday 6th December I wish to advise that I am not in a position to attend.”
In the letter Mr Collum acknowledges the transfer of the service to “the purpose built Social Day Centre within the Ballinamore Primary Care Centre, due to HIQA non-compliance and Infection Prevention Control (IPC) guidance and NEPHET Day Centre Guidance Document.”
It was also noted that service users at the Mohill Social Day Centre had been consulted and had been informed of the reason for the transfer to the Ballinamore Primary Care Centre.
“Transport has been made available to participants of the Active Age Groups in Mohill who wish to transfer to the Ballinamore Social Day Centre,” added Mr Collum in his letter.
However Carrick-on-Shannon MD members said they were not happy with the situation.
Cllr Sean McGowan said that members are “not going to let them (the HSE) get away with this.”
Cllr McGowan accepted that some improvements were needed for the day services in Mohill to be restored but said that busing service users to Ballinamore is not the answer.
“We must pursue Mr Collum and insist on him coming to a meeting to speak with us,” insisted Cllr McGowan.
Cllr Des Guckian backed the call noting that the letter from Mr Collum was a “lesson in the art of avoidance”.
He asked what the costs of improvements in Arus Carolan would be to allow the service to resume in Mohill, pointing out that the HSE is already bearing the costs of providing transport for service users to Ballinamore.
“In his response (Mr Collum) says that most people have been accommodated in Ballinamore. What about those who a re no longer attending because it has moved to Ballinamore?” he asked.
Cllr Finola Armstrong McGuire, who also serves as one of Leitrim Council's representatives on the Regional Health Forum West, said that she and fellow councillor, Paddy Farrell, had highlighted this issue at two previous meetings, to no avail.
“The answer we got is the same as what we got in the letter today,” she said.
She noted that in the letter from Mr Collum, he had highlighted that the HSE fund the Leitrim Development Company (LDC) in order for it to employ an Active Age Officer, who has responsibility for the Social Day Centres and Active Age Groups that it manages.
She asked that the Council contact the LDC and the Active Age Officer to find out what the response has been to the change in service by users.
“If this change is leaving someone behind then we will be acting on that, we will be representing them in this,” she said.
Cllr Paddy Farrell stressed the importance of members “keeping on top of this”.
He said that there are changes to day services in Carrick-on-Shannon as well and said that the transfer of service users into Ballinamore was having a serious impact on services being offered there.
Cathaoirleach of Carrick-on-Shannon MD, Cllr Thomas Mulligan said he was “very disappointed” by the response. “It is, in a way, kicking the can down the road,” he noted.
Cllr Mulligan noted two issues highlighted as problematic with the layout of the day services area in Arus Carolan in Mohill.
He said that one issue centred on the use of showers by day service users in Arus Carolan.
“In the past a small number of people using day services in Mohill used the showers here in Arus Carolan and this was cited as one of the reasons to transfer the service. However at the moment no one avails of showers in Ballinamore so the argument that this is a reason to transfer these patients just doesn't stack up,” he said.
He also noted there was a concern raised over the connecting doors between the day centre and the adjoining nursing home in Mohill. He said that he believed this issue could be easily addressed by the installation of a second door further down the corridor or the removal of the existing door and by replacing it further down the corridor.
“I think that this would satisfy infectious health procedures,” he said.
Cllr Mulligan said the HSE must also be cognisant that some service users in Mohill were able to access the town on their visits to the day services to carry out essential messages. He said that the current location of services in Ballinamore, did not allow for this to continue.
He also said that there were patients who had “never gone back to the service” after it was transferred from Mohill to Ballinamore.
“Even some of those who are going to Ballinamore are not happy about having to go to Ballinamore,” he said.
“I cannot see any good reason, economic or otherwise, why this service cannot be put in place in Mohill again.”
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