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Residents ‘distressed’ over St Mary’s nursing home closure

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Residents of a south Dublin care home facing closure were “very upset, distressed and worried for their future”, according to a report from the State’s health watchdog.

Heath Information and Quality Authority inspectors found the residents at St Mary’s (Telford) nursing home and supported living apartments had not been given information or been “consulted . . . on what was happening to their homes”, the report said.

The inspectors said management at the home on Merrion Road had failed “to prioritise the needs of residents or keep them informed about…the application to the courts for voluntary liquidation”.

They failed “to communicate with the residents following the court order” and “failed to inform” the authority in the required time of their plan to cease operating, the report said.

Hiqa inspectors visited the facility on July 28th, four days after liquidators had applied to the High Court to wind it down.

The 19 female residents surveyed range in age from their 30s to their 80s.

“Some of the residents told inspectors that they had been living there for almost 60 years. Some [said] this was the only home they could remember as they came to the service as children,” the report said.

Last week, residents and staff brought a High Court application requesting that the facility be put into examinership, effectively challenging the closure.

Mr Justice Mark Sanfey, who said the court’s priority is the health and well-being of the residents, fixed a hearing date later this month for the examinership application.

St Mary’s was founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1868 as a school and “asylum” for blind women and girls.

The order has not been involved in its management since 1996, though it owns the land and campus and two sisters sit on the board of management.

Residents told Hiqa that St Mary’s was a “one of a kind” service “designed to meet their specific care and support needs.

“Some described the centre as their haven and a place where they were safe. They said that they now felt insecure in their homes.

“The inspectors observed residents becoming visibly upset while considering the impact of the voluntary liquidation of the centre.”

There were “immediate” safety concerns in two areas: a high reliance on agency staff without arrangements to ensure these workers were suitably qualified to meet residents’ needs or had been Garda vetted; and fire safety, particularly if evacuation was necessary at night.

The liquidator “indicated” the winding down and closing of St Mary’s would be completed in “a number of months”. The report noted that the Health Act 2007 requires written notice of not less than six months of an intention to cease operation, and that at the time of the inspection no such notice had been submitted to the chief inspector.

The provisional liquidators have been required to submit weekly reports to Hiqa “on key areas of concern such as the staffing, support for residents, occurrence of specific incidents in the centre and availability of resources for residents”.

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