Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health
Business of Joint Committee
Yes. I thank the Chairman for facilitating me. A report this morning by Cian McCormack regarding St. Joseph's dementia care centre in Shankill is deeply worrying. This committee needs to write to the Minister and the Department regarding this. It is a private not-for-profit organisation but the impact of its potential closure will be catastrophic. St. Joseph's has outlined the position in great detail in letters sent to the families concerned, of which I have copies that I will share with the committee. It has 60 residents who live in individual units and those units will have to close because of a lack of funding, a lack of capacity and debt. It also has 120 day care patients and it will have to stop delivering all services. St. Joseph's has said it will have to close by the end of the year, which is really scary for the families concerned. The letters are dated 4 November. This involves 180 people. It is the largest dementia care centre in Ireland. The letters issued state St. Joseph's gets its funding through the nursing home support scheme. It also gets a day care rate set by the HSE. It has a shortfall of €7 million since 2012 and with another projected subvention of €1.2 million in 2019, which will amount to €8.2 million, it cannot function after this year. Its day care rate, which is set by the HSE, has not increased since 2006, which means it has not increased in 13 years. Having received this information not long ago and read through it, it seems it is impossible for St. Joseph's to sustain its services. Its chief executive, Emma Balmaine, has written to all the families concerned informing them of this. The families have just received these letters and they are devastated by this news.
We need to write to Department, the HSE and the Minister because St. Joseph's also cites the fact that an additional issue, of which we as public representatives are all well aware, is its insurance costs have gone through roof again. That, on top of the current funding issue, the debt, means it will have to close. A number of other similar types of organisations across the country have been in contact. We also have had representatives of a number of sections 38 and 39 organisations appear before us. I believe this is the beginning of a number of these types of announcements because obviously these organisations cannot continue to function. A number of the other organisations are also close to this point. I ask that we write to the chief executive officer of the HSE and the Minister as a matter of urgency to ask what will be done in the case of St. Joseph's because it would be catastrophic if it were to close in two months time.
I will happily provide the Chairman with those letters. I will speak to the person concerned and it is contingent on that person giving me permission. I presume there will not be a problem with that. I will then send those letters to the Chairman. People have be in touch with me about this matter and I dearly ask that we request an urgent response from the Department and HSE because this is a catastrophic situation.