Thursday, 3 June 2021
Mental Health During and Post Covid-19: Statements
Claire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
I thank the Minister of State for her statement and I will focus my contribution on the e-mental health hub in Castlerea in my constituency, which replaced the former Rosalie dementia care unit for older people. I raised the funding issue in this Chamber three weeks ago after replies from the HSE to me confirmed funding for the e-mental health hub in Castlerea was not provided this year. I have confirmed this with the head of mental health services, who indicated that funding was provided last year to recruit four staff members but this year funding was not given either to keep those four posts or fill the remaining posts. Funding at no stage was given for the psychiatry of later life element of the service.
I welcome that the Minister of State has acknowledged that €1.4 million will be allocated for the continued development of the Castlerea hub. The Minister of State, Deputy Butler, has said that the release of funding for this is imminent and I would really like to know when this funding will be made available and what exactly will the funding cover. I hope the Minister of State will acknowledge that it is shame it has come to this. This funding should have been put in place last June. I appreciate that works had to be carried out but I wonder why funding was provided for four posts last year and not be continued to pay for those posts this year. They have not been funded at all. We are now into the month of June.
The Minister of State referred to a child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS, Connect service and a CAMHS day hospital, but made no reference to the psychiatry of later life, which is a key element given what was lost with the closure of the Rosalie unit. Older people who called it their home were moved from here to there and to different nursing homes across Roscommon and Galway, even though a Government commitment was made that those residents would be allowed to see out the rest of their days in that home. This was a really devastating and cruel blow to the people of Castlerea, to the people who called the Rosalie unit their home, and to their families. Added to that blow was the fact that it has been replaced by a service that has not been funded. One year later we are now talking about €1.4 million half way into the year. There is no excuse. This was hailed as really transformative for mental health for young people and for older people, which is a really key demographic in counties such as Roscommon where we have an older population. It is especially key given that, sadly, dementia is a growing issue.
On the €400,000 given for staffing expenditure last year, to which the Minister of State referred, why was that funding not retained this year? I cannot understand that. It is disappointing. The service was hailed and opened with great fanfare - I was at the opening - and was a fantastic project. It was really well done, but when it is not funded it is no good at all. It has not served people the way it should have.
Mental health services for young people and for older people are absolutely critical and they are as much needed in counties such as Roscommon and Galway as they are anywhere else. Will the Minister of State please confirm, in writing or otherwise, when this €1.4 million will be allocated and what it will actually cover? Will she also tell the House about the psychiatry of later life element? This is very important, given the loss of the Rosalie home to the people of Castlerea and to the County of Roscommon.