Local community stands in solidarity with Shaen hospital residents

Local families and businesses generously answered the call to help hospital

Greg Mulhall


Greg Mulhall



The residents at St Brigid’s Hospital, Shaen received an unexpected, but welcome, delivery from the local community last week with many local families and businesses contributing to the massive donation.

The families and businesses rowed in behind the idea which was spearheaded by local woman Anita Deffew.
In total, 68 families and 15 businesses generously donated the gifts in a show of support for the residents of the 23-bed facility.

“The local community group here are always very supportive of the hospital. One lady in particular, Anita Deffew, started by getting on to her family and friends and it snowballed from there,” explained the Acting Director of Nursing at the hospital, Claire McLaughlin.

“By the time they finished up, almost 70 families and 15 businesses all donated a mountain of stuff. Most of the collection was done at Anita’s house and a convoy of people helped to make the delivery last week

“There was a bit of everything in the delivery. Plenty of home-baked goods which didn’t last too long. Various gifts other gifts including chocolates, sweets, and even some plants and flowers.

“There was a couple of lovely cherry blossom trees included too, so we’ve planted them out in the front garden so that all the locals can see them when they’re walking by.

“There were even goodie bags from Hughes’ and Breslins’ Pharmacies in Portlaoise for every staff member with various creams, lotions and a few nice bits to keep us going - and are greatly appreciated,” said Ms McLaughlin
She said the Covid-19 pandemic has meant daily life at the hospital has changed significantly.

“Social distancing is the main impact on our daily lives here. Rather than group activities, now we have single activities. Whereas before you may have had 10 people in a room, you now have two for a game of cards or bingo.

“We’re lucky in that we have plenty of space here so we can manage it well. Other than that we try to keep our daily routine much the same so that there isn’t too much additional change for the residents,” she said.

The hospital has been strictly adhering to HSE protocols in a bid to keep the virus out. Ms McLaughlin is happy to report that the efforts of their staff and residents have worked so far.

“Thankfully, we’ve had no cases here at the hospital. Everyone is staying safe and well, and all the families have been incredibly supportive during these times. It’s testament to our diligent staff here, they’ve all been so careful and are strictly adhering to the guidelines in place.

“Obviously there has been no visiting but we’re doing our best to facilitate outside visiting. We have some perfect big windows and plenty of space outside, so the residents can still get to see their families.

“We’ve started utilising Skype and WhatsApp so that the residents can communicate with their loved ones. Most of the families would be regular visitors so aside from a few phone calls, the digital age is quite new to most of our residents. It’s definitely a first for a lot of them, but they’re adapting well and making the best of it in these times.

“The residents got a great kick out of the delivery and they were amazed by the support. It gave the whole hospital a much-needed boost. We can feel a bit isolated out here at times so it was great for everyone to see that our local community certainly haven’t forgotten about us one bit,” said Ms McLaughlin.