Inspector: Psychiatric ward conditions appalling and custodial

CONDITIONS at a psychiatric ward in a Limerick city hospital were described as “appalling and custodial” in the Mental Health Commission’s annual report, published yesterday.

Eighty-two long-term residents live at St Martin’s Ward at St Joseph’s Hospital and their advocacy groups described the centre as “outdated” and “custodial”.

The report stated: “There was no reason for St Joseph’s to remain open and the HSE has been urged to move them to an acceptable level of care.”

He described the building as “dilapidated” and said “it was very disappointing St Joseph’s had not made any significant progress towards closure.”

In north Tipperary, the report revealed adults are waiting up to 21 months to see a psychologist and up to 25% of those on the waiting list have removed themselves off it due to the waiting times.

At Kelvin Grove Centre in Kilkenny, patients were described as living in conditions “far below the standard of proper care and treatment.”

Access to multidisciplinary teams wasn’t available and patients can’t get physical or psychological assessments. A second inspection later in the year noted “significant improvements.”

At St Finians in Kerry, “significant improvements” in care on previous years was recorded.

Meanwhile, in Co Cork, the lack of a rehabilitation team in north Cork was highlighted. Rehabilitation support allows people to move back to the community and avoid spending unnecessary time in hospital.

Cork University Hospital’s mental health wing was described as “cramped” and “not suitable as an admissions unit”.

The inspector said it was “difficult to observe residents” in a space where there were numerous exit points.

Staffing was described as “pitifully low” and the lack of community mental health teams and rehabilitation services was criticised. The inspector said the Co Cork service “desperately needs resources if it is to improve.”

Residents with challenging behaviour and with a criminal past are housed at Carraig Mor in Shanakiel, Cork city. Many were inappropriately housed according to the report and should be in the community.

Forensic psychiatry deals with former criminals who have serious mental health problems. The forensic team at Carraig Mor “expressed concern about their ability to provide proper service due to lack of resources”.

In west Cork, residents expressed concerns about lack of time with staff and an over reliance on medication.

In south Tipperary, staffing was a huge issue with 25 nursing vacancies and two clinical psychologist posts vacant.


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