Current residents of the Sacred Heart Hospital have given glowing testimonies about the standard of care at the State-run nursing home, the future of which is in jeopardy.
Up to 10 long-stay residents, some of whom are wheelchair-bound, attended a public meeting in the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon town on Wednesday, 9th of September.
The meeting, held by the Hospital Action Committee (HAC), was called as serious question marks surround the future of the ‘County Home’.
Over 350 people were in attendance, including union officials, medical professionals, local politicians and community leaders.
Mary Scott, who lives in the hospital, said: “Prior to being a resident, I had used some of the services offered by the Sacred Heart Home, such as meals-on-wheels and day care. I also had stays for respite and rehab care.
“On all occasions, it gave me the necessary care and assistance to return to my own home and live independently. Without this, I believe I would have needed long-term care much sooner.”
She said that, towards the end of last year, it dawned on her that she needed full-time care.
“And I told my family that there was only one place where I would go – the Sacred Heart Home,” she said.
“It was great to be able to get a place there because I knew it would always be spotless and the care there would be second to none. I share a room with lovely people and enjoy chatting to all of the people around me.
“We go on outings and there are many activities arranged for us.”
Ms Scott was very complimentary about the staff.
“I feel strongly that, through their diligent care, they have kept me out of hospital,” said the Elphin native, who has lived in Roscommon town for many years. “Our opinions are asked for on various matters that affect us.”
She strongly opposed any moves to curtail services at the nursing home.
“I would hope that the services of the Sacred Heart Home are not cut back as I believe it is everyone’s right to have the opportunity for care and rehabilitation in their own county,” she said.
HAC chairperson John McDermott explained the current situation regarding the facility – stating that unless the Government urgently commits to rebuilding the facility, it will soon face a restriction on admissions.
He said that, under newly-enforced health regulations, the majority of rooms must be of single occupancy. “Our hospital isn’t in that range,” he added.
HIQA have warned the HSE, which runs the hospital, that 45 of the 80 long-stay beds would face a restriction on admissions imminently unless a commitment is soon made to construct a new 50-bed unit.
This would require capital funding expenditure of up to €12 from the Government; no such commitment has been forthcoming so far.
Ms Scott and others were adamant that, while the health watchdog may point to structural issues, there is no shortfall in the standard of care.
“The care that my mother is receiving in the home is really very good,” said one woman. “I go in there to see her every day.
“I can walk around the whole home with my mother. She is very popular there because she always smiles and everybody loves her. We go around all of the different wards and she is acknowledged by everybody.”
She, too, objected to any plans to reduce services.
“I would be afraid, if the services are downgraded, some of the ancillary services, like physiotherapy and occupational therapy, won’t be there anymore,” she said.
“That would be of concern to all those people who are getting older.”