The Shaen Hospital Action Committee’s plan to maintain services in St Brigid’s Hospital could earn money for the HSE.
Under their proposal, the Alzheimers Society would establish a Day Care Centre in the currently unoccupied 15 bed ward, with assisted funding from the HSE and seven beds would be designated for respite care and allocated to clients of the Alzheimers Society of Ireland.
The proposal combines several organisations working together in Shaen, including the HSE, Alzheimers Society, Laois Partnership Company and local committee.
The committee are asking that the HSE agree to trial their propsal for 12 months, at which stage it would be reviewed. The HSE would also bill Health Insurance Companies and private individuals for the respite services just the same Portlaoise Regional Hospital would bill for an operation. The committee claim, that by doing this it would normalise mental illness.
But the income generated by the respite beds, depends on the daily rate charged by the HSE. Based on €100 per day, these beds would generate over €250,000 per year, but this could increase to almost €500,000 if the HSE charged £140 per day. The committee appeal to the HSE to set realistic daily rates which are affordable for the patient’s families. “This would negate the need for families to seek subvention from the HSE,” their proposal said.
The proposal claims that the income generated by the idle beds could be used to off set running costs and fund future developments. The proposal also maximises the usage of the facility and could be replicated all over the country.
The committee also want Shaen designated as an official centre of excellence for the care of patients with dementia and Alzheimers and develop it accordingly.
On the staff in the hospital, the proposal details the different training programmes and college courses currently being undertaken by staff.
“It is a way for the HSE to keep intact this team of specialised staff to care for the growing number of people who are currently and who will in the future suffer from dementia.”
They liken taking a staff member from Shaen to putting Henry Shefflin on the Louth Hurling team and expecting them to win an All-Ireland.
“Taking a staff member out of Shaen and putting them in a new location would be akin to taking Henry Shefflin from the Kilkenny hurling team and putting him on the county Louth hurling team and expecting them to win an All-Ireland. It simply would not work and over time the service would wither. One requires a combination of skill, culture and team work to make it work and this is what is present in St Brigids Hospital,” the proposal says.
The proposal was also critical of the HSE’s admissions policy, which they said made it difficult for people to get into a facility like Shaen.
“In many cases, families pretend that they loved one has had a heart attack, bring them into A&E and refuse to take them home. This results in these patients being put into beds in wards and effectively become “bed blockers” causing problems for the regional hospitals.”
“We believe that the combination of Public Private Community involvement will ensure that the first class services provided in St Brigid’s Hospital will be maintained and expanded to meet the growing need for service for patients and families suffering from dementia and alzheimers,” chairperson of the Shaen Hospital Committee, Paddy Buggy said.