HSE 'examining' two houses in Midleton as potential solution to Owenacurra closure

Campaigners continue to highlight a 'lack of information' on the process of closing mental health centre and moving its residents
HSE 'examining' two houses in Midleton as potential solution to Owenacurra closure

The Owenacurra Centre in Midleton was due to close last October.

The HSE is now “examining” two houses in Midleton to accommodate residents from a mental health centre that is being closed.

Residents at the Owenacurra centre in east Cork were told last June that the centre would be closed by October 2021 due to concerns about the standard of the building.

This date was pushed back when it quickly became apparent that suitable accommodation for the 19 residents was not available.

A campaign against the closure has centred on the rights of these people to remain in the area and not be moved to other parts of the county. 

In addition to moving current residents, the closure will leave more than 90,000 people in east Cork without a dedicated 24-hour mental health facility.

The Irish Examiner has reported one accommodation option, a former B&B in Carrigaline bought by the HSE for €750,000, has never opened as a healthcare facility and is also expected to house residents from another facility in Blackpool.

At the Health Committee this week, HSE national director of community operations Yvonne O'Neill was questioned on this process by Senator Frances Black.

“I know there are two houses being examined in Midleton specific to the will and preference of the individuals," she said.

"Our priority is to try and maintain the proximity for the individuals and their close relationships with the community."

Ms O'Neill said in other areas there was initial resistance to closing these type of units, but this changed after the move.

“We could probably do more with the services users and families and more with people who have genuine concerns like yourselves to give you opportunities to see the types of arrangements we have put in place (elsewhere),” she said.

At the same hearing, HSE CEO Paul Reid said: “We are looking at purchasing some residential properties that can be supported for this. That has started.”

He said they are working “extremely closely” with Owenacurra residents, and the building is “highly inappropriate” for residential and daycare services.

Family concerns

Families and campaigners including local Green Party councillor Liam Quaide have consistently highlighted a worrying lack of information on the process. 

Families have been particularly worried at the prospect of having relatives moved to remote areas.

A spokeswoman for HSE Cork/Kerry said there are now 11 residents.

“The HSE has bid on a detached house in the Midleton area that may also be suitable as a community residence,” she said.

“This would be separate to any possible plans for the existing site. It is not possible to say anything more detailed until the process is further progressed, but we can confirm that this would not be a property for a single resident.”

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