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 Header Item Road Tolls (Continued)
 Header Item Respite Care Services Provision

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross] It is a little difficult for me, not having been there, to be fully cognisant of the difficulties which are caused in certain areas which Deputy O'Dowd pointed out. I have said to the Deputy here that, provided other local representations of the areas are notified as well, and I can notify them, I would be happy to come and see it for myself because I have addressed this on several occasions previously. It appears, from what Deputy O'Dowd and others say, that this solution is not satisfactory. I would be happy to visit and see it again.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I welcome the commitment of the Minister to visit and view it. It is important that he does. That is hands on, and I welcome that.

The Minister will see the significant need for what we are talking about, particularly on the east side of Drogheda, to allow port-bound traffic avoid in total the town of Drogheda. We need a new bridge to carry traffic, north and south, and a proper road network - the northern cross route - to link up with the motorway.

The problem is that all of this was built by the then Fianna Fáil Government, which cared nothing for local democracy and which stuck it in Drogheda because that is where it thought it would get away with it. That is a charge which, in my view, is true and accurate.

However, I accept it is there. We need a plan, with the Minister's presence and with the local authorities. We should invite the local authorities, that is, Meath and Louth county councils, to that meeting to talk about the improvements that are needed in the road network locally to make up for the significant deficit there in proper transport infrastructure.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is the key Department for increased funding for roads in Drogheda because if it is not a national primary route, it is the responsibility of the Department. I would like to put a shopping list on the Minister's desk in this regard but I welcome and respect the Minister's commitment.

At the end of the day, it is to let a town breathe, live and grow. The town is growing significantly. Drogheda is the largest town in Ireland. It has no council, has no proper administrative infrastructure and has poor local road structure. I welcome the Minister's intention to visit and I look forward to that shortly.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I will conclude by thanking the Deputy. I should mention that provided he would have local councillors at the meeting-----

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd Of course, and Members of the Oireachtas-----

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----including Councillor Kevin Callan-----

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd -----and all the Independent councillors.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----who has also made representations, I would be happy to do so. When we have issues such as this which arise and which have been addressed, and which have not been sorted, it is certainly worth looking at them again.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd Good stuff.

Respite Care Services Provision

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle I am glad to see the Minister of State, Deputy Corcoran Kennedy, is back dealing with this issue on Seaview respite home. Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated since 18 January when I last was lucky enough to raise a Topical Issue on the staffing situation at the Seaview respite home and we last discussed it.

I am disappointed to have to put this Topical Issue forward. The reason I am disappointed is because, despite my best efforts, I have been unable to get a response from the HSE locally on the situation regarding the Seaview respite home. On 24 April, I emailed the manager of social care in the area and I followed up with a phone call to him on 15 May but still received no response. I spoke to him on 15 May and he said he would get a response for me. Four times in the past ten days, I rang the service manager for intellectual disabilities without any response either. That is why I have put forward this Topical Issue in the House this week.

It is a disgraceful waste of Dáil time that I have to submit this as a Topical Issue to get some sort of response from the HSE locally. It is ridiculous for this to happen in this situation. It shows a lack of management and a lack of compassion on the part of the HSE in Donegal on this matter.

There are 100 families who depend on this respite care home and it has now been closed for almost two months. In January, the Minister of State responded stating the HSE were recruiting staff and when they would be place, the respite home would be back up to full capacity. It is closed at present, however, and we cannot get an answer. The families cannot get an answer. As an Oireachtas Member, I cannot get an answer from the HSE locally. That is a disgrace. I hope the Minister of State's office will intervene and get a response from the HSE as to what is the situation and as to whether and, more importantly, when this home will reopen. Initially, families were told that it would possibly close for a month and it has been a lot longer than that. It is just not acceptable.

Other Deputies sought to raise Topical Issues and while I was lucky enough to have this one chosen today, it is disgraceful to have to go to such lengths to get a response from the HSE. I look forward to hearing what the Minister of State has to say.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy): Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy I thank Deputy Pringle for raising this important issue again today. I will outline the position on the availability of respite in Seaview respite home, Mountcharles, County Donegal.

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities that will empower them to live independent lives, provide them with greater independence in accessing the services they choose and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

The provision of respite services has come under increased pressure in the past couple of years. There is an increase in the number of children and adults seeking access to respite and there are increasing levels of changing needs due to the increase in the age of people with a disability. The way in which residential-respite services are provided has also changed as agencies comply with HIQA standards and the national policy on congregated settings. In some situations, this means that beds are no longer available, for example, vacated beds for residents who go home at weekends or for holidays can no longer be used for respite.

Seaview respite house is located in Mountcharles, Donegal town and was established in 2002. It provides respite for children from the age of six years and adults with an intellectual disability or autism or both on a rotational basis for 100 families the south-west Donegal catchment area. The maximum occupancy provides for five children or five adults. The service operates a person-centred model of care and is delivered by a combination of nursing and support staff.

Respite services at Seaview House, as Deputy Pringle has outlined, have been curtailed over the last few months as a result of staff shortages due to illness leave and retirement. The HSE has been trying to recruit and replace staff in as timely a manner as possible and it acknowledges the upset and distress this situation has caused to clients and families and apologises for any upset caused. In its efforts to restore a full respite service at Seaview, the Health Service Executive has been actively trying to fill three vacant nursing posts. One nurse was appointed on 15 May and a second was appointed on 29 May. The third vacancy was filled but the successful candidate withdrew from the appointment at the late stages of recruitment which will, unfortunately, delay the finalisation of this third post by at least two months. A care assistant has also recently retired and a replacement is now being recruited. Following the induction of these new staff, I can confirm that respite services have recommenced in Seaview House on a phased basis with effect from Monday last, 29 May. The HSE remains committed to ensuring that the respite service resumes on a full-time basis as soon as possible pending the recruitment of outstanding staff.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle It is a sad indictment of the HSE locally that I had to raise it here to find out that respite services have supposedly recommended from 29 May.

As for the posts being filled, obviously, if this is correct, one can see there will not be full-time restoration of respite care. How can we have any faith in the HSE providing a truthful answer as to what is happening here?

I do not know how retirements can cause problems within the HSE. The HSE knows the ages of its staff. It knows the retiring age of its staff. It knows they are going to retire. Indeed, I am aware that the care assistant who recently retired actually wanted to stay on for another year or more, and the HSE refused the request and closed down this service. This is the type of treatment that families with loved ones with disabilities who are in need of respite are getting from the HSE in Donegal. It is totally unacceptable.

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