The HSE looks unlikely to change its plan for a new nursing home to replace St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis in spite of the COVID-19 outbreak.
While officials acknowledge lessons will be learned following the outbreak of the virus within nursing homes generally, officials say their plans for the new facility, which is due to open next year, will aid infection control.
The COVID-19 outbreak, and in particular the spread of the virus through nursing homes, has led to the Taoiseach signalling a change in the way older people are cared for.
Earlier this month, Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that the next government will need to consider moving away from large, modern, newly-built, single-room nursing homes, with 150 to 200 beds, towards smaller units, as well as more and better home care.
But in spite of this, the HSE has told Clare FM that it doesn’t foresee any changes to its plans for a replacement for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis.
A new 100-bed unit is planned for a site near the Turnpike in Ennis, and is due to be operational next year.
To date, the HSE says, there has been no re-evaluation of these plans, although it concedes that all buildings in the health service will likely be reviewed in the context of the pandemic.
However, officials say they don’t see it impacting on the overall plan for residential facilities, including the new St. Joseph’s Hospital.
They say the planned model of care there, which will see the creation of effective households within the overall centre, will benefit residents and help prevent infections.
The HSE also does not anticipate any change in investment plans for Clare’s other public nursing homes.
The HSE issued the following responses to questions from Clare FM:
Has there been, or is there likely to be, a re-evaluation or change of plans for the replacement for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis?
To date there has been no re-evaluation of the design brief or change of plan for the replacement of St Joseph’s Hospital in Ennis, however it is likely that all health care, and indeed non-health care buildings, will be reviewed in the context of the pandemic in the months and years ahead. However we do not see this impacting on the overall plan and model of care for our residential facilities. All plans will be reviewed not only by the Clinical staff but by a dedicated Infection and Prevention Control Nurse during design development.
The plans for St Joseph’s is based on the Teaghlach Model of Care , which aims to create a person-centered approach which supports the opportunity for residents to continue to direct their own lives in accordance with their cognitive and physical abilities, and in an environment which reflects the comforts of home. This will be done by the creation of households within the overall centre. Each household will be encouraged to take ownership of their home by personalising it and it will be domestic insofar as is practicable in character. The majority of single rooms will greatly improve, not only the privacy and dignity of residents, but will greatly aid the prevention of infection. The households will have their own dayroom, activity room, dining room and kitchen area at the centre of the home. There will also be a quiet room for reading, reflection or meeting with visitors which can also open out to the outdoor space. This we feel remains the correct model of care for our residents going forward.
Has there been, or is there likely to be, a re-evaluation or change of plans for investments at other public nursing homes in Clare, or across the region?
We are not aware, nor do we anticipate, any change of investment plans in the major programme of residential care settings in either Clare, the Mid West or Nationally and are delighted that these capital projects have been prioritised for funding. The residential care settings in the Mid West would all be categorised as smaller units, with the largest being the proposed 100 bed in St Joseph’s, Ennis.
In general terms, what changes are foreseen with regards to long-term residential care settings in the region, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
It would be important that the programme of capital investment in our residential care settings is expedited to ensure that we have more single rooms, and improved infrastructure at the earliest opportunity to satisfy regulatory demands.