Seanad debates

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Psychiatry Services

10:30 am

Photo of Mary ButlerMary Butler (Waterford, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank Senator Murphy for raising this issue in Seanad Éireann. I can safely say that this is not the first time I have heard about this from the Senator. As Senator Murphy has said, we have spent a lot of time discussing the previous Rosalie Unit.

The project was announced by then Minister of State, Jim Daly, in June 2020, comprising a new CAMHS Connect day hospital and a psychiatry of later life day hospital. In 2020, €800,000 was provided for establishment works and staffing recruitment by the HSE. In 2021, 14 posts were approved with an allocation of €1.4 million.Staffing for the CAMHS Connect day hospital includes a consultant psychiatrist, a non-consultant hospital doctor, an advanced nurse practitioner, a senior social worker, a clinical nurse specialist, a senior psychologist and an occupational therapist. We are trying to put in place multidisciplinary teams around the country that will be able to support people with mental illnesses across all disciplines. The consultant, the non-consultant hospital doctor, the advanced nurse practitioner and the senior social worker for this team have been recruited. The remaining three posts are at an advanced stage of the recruitment process.

The following services are now available from the CAMHS Connect team: CAMHS multidisciplinary clinics, including a monthly mental health intellectual disability clinic; diagnostic assessments; cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT, and family therapy, which is important in supporting the families of loved ones with mental illness; outreach support; and CAMHS group work, which is being run to deliver therapy to young people. There is an existing psychiatry of later life service at Castlerea. Staffing for the new psychiatry of later life day hospital includes a consultant psychiatrist, a non-consultant hospital doctor, an advanced nurse practitioner, a social worker, a clinical nurse specialist, a senior psychologist and a senior occupational therapist. The non-consultant hospital doctor has recently taken up the duties of the position, and the remaining posts are going through the recruitment process and will be filled as soon as possible. Funding is allocated to the local mental health service as staff are appointed.

One of the real challenges being experienced is in recruiting staff. It can take up to 50 weeks to recruit and successfully put a person in place in a role, especially if the post must be backfilled. We are seeing this challenge with recruitment throughout the country and I have had many discussions about this issue. I met the CAMHS team in north county Dublin yesterday. When we are recruiting for staff, whether in the public, private or voluntary areas, and regardless of whether the recruitment is undertaken by NGOs or the HSE, we are all dipping into the same pool of personnel. It is difficult, but suffice it to say the will is there, the funding is there and recruitment for posts is under way.

The new psychiatry of later life day hospital on site will meet evolving mental health needs across a wide catchment area. A major component of the new services is outreach to emergency and inpatient units through telepsychiatry. This approach will continue to be developed by mental health professionals. The new psychiatry of later life day hospital reflects a new and improved approach to meeting the mental health needs of older people in the region, compared with the old Rosalie unit which was based on the same site in Castlerea. The day hospital will provide a real alternative to inpatient mental health care in Roscommon and will facilitate older people living in their own homes or in nursing homes. Specific programmes will be delivered for older people with severe mental health difficulties and individuals with dementia, including a new memory clinic. The service will provide another option in addition to acute hospital care, delay admission to continuing care and provide carer respite capacity. Services also include cognitive behavioural therapy and other therapies, anxiety management, recovery programmes, as well as art, music and healthy living skills.


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