Abbeyleix man ‘held like a prisoner’

An Abbeyleix man has spent the last fourteen years in a nursing home for the elderly, while the HSE refuse to move him to more suitable accommodation, the family has claimed.

An Abbeyleix man has spent the last fourteen years in a nursing home for the elderly, while the HSE refuse to move him to more suitable accommodation, the family has claimed.

Michael Malone has spent the last decade and a half in Abbeyleix Community Nursing Home, following his release from Tullamore hospital, following a bad illness.

“When he was released from hospital, it suited the family to have Michael in Abbeyleix as our parents were alive, but now he would benefit from living in a more community based environment,” his sister Anna explains.

Michael has a rare disorder called Kjellin syndrome, which is complicated by a number of other related conditions, including deafness.

“Kjellin Syndrome affects a group of muscles at the bottom of the brain. Michael also has a hearing impairment, but he signs perfectly and attended deaf school so communication is not a problem.

“Michael loves reading the papers and follows all the sport. We take Michael out and a friend takes him to GAA matches and mass sometimes,” Anna explains.

Anna and her brother Stephen have been fighting to get Michael moved to more appropraite accommodation.

“Abbeyleix has been great to Michael and the staff are just fantastic there, but he is very inapporpriately placed with elderly people, and he gets lonely at night.”

Currently, there is a bed waiting in St Joseph’s House in Stillorgan, but the HSE have been dragging their heels in approving the transfer.

“Michael has been assessed and St Joseph’s have the skills to cope with his physical and medical needs.

“It has a lower age profile, they have social activities and he wouls be able to take up swimming again. I have yet to see a better alternative,” Anna continues.

“We have been waiting since last December for a decision on this. It’s hard for Michael to understand why they are taking so long.

“He can’t be held like a prisoner until the HSE decided. He has been to respite up there and he really loves it. Even his psychiatrist says it would be a good move for him.”

The HSE said they do not comment on individual client care matters. But they had met with the family and are regularly reviewing the clients identified health and social care needs. The HSE continue to engage and be available to the family.

However, Anna denied this: “That is a lie. We haven’t had any response from the HSE since the end of April,” Anna said.

Labour Senator, John Whelan also raised Michael’s story in the Seanad recently, where he pleaded with the Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch to intervene.