Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions


12:22 pm

Photo of Michael LowryMichael Lowry (Tipperary, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I am going to continue in the same vein, on the issue of the Dean Maxwell home. I am not satisfied with the answer. I thank the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Butler, for telling me last week that a 12-month extension will be granted. I have communicated this to the residents and management of the home. Therefore, there is no new news in that regard.

The time for sweet talk on the future of this treasured facility is over. It is time that we put our cards on the table and gave people the facts. It is also time for the Government to tell the people of Roscrea whether it will overturn the recommendation of the HSE to rob Roscrea of the security of having a long-stay bed unit.

The Minister’s recently published national development plan provides for expenditure of up to €1 billion, to be invested in 88 existing nursing homes. I repeatedly stated in this House that without direct Government intervention, the Dean Maxwell will continue to be downgraded and will not be included in the HSE’s list of 88 nursing homes. Without a clear directive from the Government, the prospects of a new Dean Maxwell are slim to nil. If the decision is left solely to the HSE, the people of Roscrea will lose their cherished long-stay bed unit.

The HSE has its own agenda when it comes to elderly residential care in north Tipperary. Political manoeuvring in the recent past, which Deputy Kelly will be aware of, ensured that a 50-bed residential unit would be built in Nenagh in the full knowledge that it would lead to a downgrading of the Dean Maxwell unit. Under the plan, the Dean Maxwell’s 25 beds are reallocated to make the Nenagh project viable. With the stroke of a pen, the well-being and happiness of elderly people in Roscrea was dismissed. The attitude involved moving the residents to Nenagh from the place they now call home on the basis that will be fine and will be only 20 miles away from the loved ones who support them. This was done in typical cloak-and-dagger fashion by the HSE. Queries from me and others were met with evasive responses. The HSE stonewalled approaches for information and refused point-blank to admit the true position. It stonewalled approaches for information and refused point-blank to admit the true position. The executive had its plans under way to close the Dean Maxwell by stealth. It had neither the courage nor the honesty to admit it.

As a result of consultation with HIQA, the Dean Maxwell was recently granted a 12-month extension to facilitate the build-out of the Nenagh unit. Importantly, no new residents are being accepted in the Dean Maxwell when a bed is vacated. That tells its own story. The people of Roscrea are being wronged and the elderly are being sacrificed. Roscrea is a town of decent and hard-working people. It is a tight-knit community where people look out for one another. They are fiercely loyal to their older citizens. No one in Roscrea, myself or anyone else begrudges Nenagh a new facility, but the people of Roscrea feel passionately that it should not be at the expense of elderly people in their town.

In my political actions, I have always used reasoned arguments and logic. In the case of the Dean Maxwell, this approach has met with a deaf ear. If this attitude and this policy continue, I will encourage and support the people of Roscrea in protest action. The HSE has sold out on the Dean Maxwell. It is an agent of the Government and exists to implement Government policy. Therefore, it is time for the Government to stand up, act and issue a directive to the HSE to make sure long-stay beds remain in the Dean Maxwell. That is what the issue is.


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