Respite services at St Mary's Drumcar to stay

Health

Respite services at St Mary's Drumcar to stay

Gene Yore gene.yore@dundalkdemocrat.ie@DundalkDemocrat

The respite service at St Mary’s Drumcar will continue despite its current suspension.

The St John of God North East Services have stated it regrets the postponement of the respite services but it is hoped to have them restored as soon as possible.

However Deputy Fergus O'Dowd said that recent revelations about the additional payments to senior managers from St. John of God have raised serious public concerns.

“The public has a right to know why respite services are being cut in one area while huge payments are being made to senior managers,” Deputy O'Dowd said.

“It is ironic that this cut in respite comes to light on the same day that the media is reporting that an undisclosed payment of €600,000 was made to the Chief Executive of St John of God in 2013.

Deputy O’Dowd said: “When one contrasts the tremendous work of the staff and the community of St. John of God's with the scandal of the under-the- table payments to senior executives that were announced recently, it is absolutely unacceptable that this can happen,” he told the Dail.

“I have no doubt that the Minister of State will intervene immediately and urgently, so that the care these people need comes first and always first. These people must be looked after and I look forward to the Minister of State’s response and, indeed, his actions. I know they will be appropriate, but it is unacceptable that the scandal of payments under the counter would continue.”

“I have had a number of constituents ringing me, all of them regretfully in tears and very upset, looking for an increased level of care in terms of the respite their family members need. Their family members, in each case, have an intellectual disability. One of them occupies a respite bed in St. Mary's in Drumcar for three weeks and then on the fourth week of the month they are forced to leave that respite bed in the proper place and to go to a private nursing home, notwithstanding the excellence of care there. It is inappropriate and unacceptable to the family and, indeed, to the person who is in that bed, because they leave their familiar surroundings and they are put into an entirely inappropriate place with people who are much older than them.”

He asked the health minister of state to look at the issue, not just the cases of the people referred to, but the wider issue of the emerging needs in the entire communities?

“Respite must be available for these people,” he said.

The issue was also raised by Fianna Fail Deputy Declan Breathanch and Sinn Fein President and Deputy Gerry Adams.