ROSCREA’S Dean Maxwell Community Nursing Home faces an uncertain future as the 2021 deadline for the enforcement of new building standards closes in, which will relegate the facility into being unable to offer long-term stay care for new residents.
The issue, which has been identified as the single most pressing issue in Roscrea by concerned local people, is becoming a political priority for the elected representatives of the area - indicated by two attempts to make progress by high ranked politicians in the last week.
Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on finance, Cork TD Michael McGrath visited the Dean Maxwell last week, while Labour’s spokesperson on health, Alan Kelly facilitated a meeting in Dublin this week focused solely on the future of public long-term care in Roscrea.
Deputy McGrath, who visited the Dean Maxwell and met residents and staff before taking part in a meeting hosted by Age Friendly Roscrea last Thursday night, told the Tribune that Roscrea “needs a vision of what it wants for the future.”
“It strikes me that what is lacking is a plan - once there is one we can get behind it and start lobbying,” Deputy McGrath said.
Invited to Roscrea by Tipperary TD, Jackie Cahill, Mr. McGrath said he got a “very good overview of the facility and its importance to local people,” when he visited the Dean Maxwell, which he described as “a lovely, caring environment where the residents are surrounded by their family who can visit them with ease because the facility is in their home town.”
In 2021 new building regulations brought in by HIQA will force the HSE to no longer accept any new long-term care residents in the Dean Maxwell. All current residents will be unaffected by the changes, which will affect numerous nursing homes facing a similar situation dotted around the country - mainly issues related to room size and bathroom facilities.
Deputy McGrath told the Tribune he “doesn’t see any great commitment from the HSE” and that Roscrea “urgently needs a plan that meets the needs of older people in Roscrea” while also anticipating a shift in demographics in coming decades.
“We have to get the HSE to change its policy and we need to be in government to achieve that,” Deputy Cahill added.
“The Dean Maxwell is close to the hearts of all Roscrea people. Since its foundation it has served the Roscrea area very well and it is my intention that we will see long stay beds in Roscrea into the future” Deputy Cahill said.
“In recent months the HSE have insisted that there will be no more admissions for long stay care at the Dean Maxwell which will see the service phased out by 2021. The feeling at the meeting was that this was as a result of the decision to invest in long stay beds in Nenagh.
“Roscrea is one of three big Towns in North Tipperary and it is entitled to have proper long-term care for the elderly in the locality.
“Fianna Fail has always supported the Dean Maxwell. Former Government Minister Michael Smith was a great advocate,” Deputy Cahill said.
Local Fianna Fail Councillor and Cathaoirleach of the Municipal District for the Roscrea area, Michael Smith, told the meeting he feels extending into the current facility’s car-park is the best solution and said because of the lack of political will and foresight for Roscrea in the past the current situation has come about.
“The argument that Nenagh is getting Roscrea’s beds needs to be stopped,” Cllr. Smith said making reference to the creation of a new 50 bed unit in St. Conlon’s in Nenagh, adding that “Nenagh needs its beds and has its own problems - this is about Roscrea.”
Cllr. Smith said it’s “a small ask for a town the size of Roscrea to be able to care for its own elderly,” and told the meeting he despairs that even “people power might not be enough to save it at the eleventh hour. A Minister has to intervene here and work with all the local groups to find the solution,” Cllr. Smith said.
Anne Keevy, Chair and founder of Age Friendly Roscrea, which has made Roscrea a blueprint for other towns to follow in terms of caring for the elderly, said she wants to see Roscrea be treated as a “one-off case and be made an exemplar of how care can be done properly.”
Roscrea Community Development Council (RCDC) Chairman, John Lupton, highlighted the importance of Roscrea people being cared for in their hometown and said the HSE need to lift their embargo until an alternative is found.
Meanwhile, a meeting arranged by Labour’s spokesperson on health, Tipperary TD Alan Kelly on Tuesday saw local representatives meet with the Minister for Older People Jim Daly regarding the issue.
“It is hoped that Minister Daly and the HSE will have some proposal to give hope to the people of Roscrea on this issue. They deserve a new purpose built nursing home in Roscrea and the timelines being put down to change the current nursing home into a day home are not acceptable. HIQA must work with the HSE and be flexible to a changing capital plan that will allow for a new, modern home in Roscrea. The Dean Maxwell has served the people of the area to the highest standard for generations,” Deputy Kelly said.