ONLY 11 patients remain resident at St Joseph’s Hospital, with the HSE “actively working towards” finding them more appropriate community-based care, Teresa Bulfin, senior operations officer with the regional mental health services said this week.
Ms Bulfin declined to be a hostage to fortune by giving an exact date on which St Joseph’s would officially close as a psychiatric hospital.
“But we have a very specific plan we are working on towards moving those patients into more appropriate community-based services and accommodation,” she said.
She was speaking at City Hall this week as Limerick City Archives took possession - through a long-term loan - of almost 200 years of records from the Mulgrave Street hospital.
By today’s standards, the records make for grim reading on why patients were admitted, the treatments considered appropriate for them and the conditions in which they lived.
But the days of hundreds of patients being confined in large acute psychiatric hospitals was now “thankfully part of our history”, said Catherine Adams, director of nursing with the mental health services in the Mid-West.
Ms Bulfin said: “new policies and legislation including Planning for the Future, A Vision for Change and the Mental Health Act 2001 have led to major changes in the delivery of mental health services in Ireland”.
“A Vision for Change proposes a holistic view of mental illness and recommends an integrated multi-disciplinary approach to addressing the biological, psych-ological and social factors that contribute to mental health problems. It proposes a person-centred approach to treatment which addresses each of these elements through an integrated care plan reflecting best practice, involving and agreed with service users and their carers. I am happy to say that as we stand here today, we now have only 11 residents in St Joseph’s Hospital and we are actively working towards facilitating these residents with more appropriate community-based residential care,” Ms Bulfin said.
Some of those who remain in St Joseph’s have complex care needs, Ms Adams said, but all had the “full involvement of multidisciplinary care teams with almost weekly review which is very proactive and integrated” as their transfer to other facilities is progressed.
“It can’t happen overnight because of need to ensure patients recovery is respected. It would be easy to move them out en masse but we haven’t done that,” Ms Adams said.
“We would hope to move a few more of those individuals on in the coming months and we are looking at the specific needs of a small group of patients.”
“We have had people come through St Joseph’s on to high support to medium support to independent living and we have some wonderful examples of that,” Ms Adams said.