Long Trek For Nursing Home Relatives

An elderly woman will have to travel almost 25 miles to visit her loved ones who are being relocated from St Margaret’s Nursing Home to Balbriggan. Seventy-eight-year-old Winnie Black and her sister regularly visit their sister Mary and her husband Jamesie Keogh, who have stayed in the St Margaret’s home for almost seven years.

However, the couple are now being relocated to the nearest nursing home available, which is over 20 miles away in Balbriggan. Unfortunately, because of the distance to Balbriggan, Winnie and her sister Emily now don’t know when they will be able visit their loved ones.

“We are too old to drive so we will have to either get a bus or a train to Balbriggan if we are to see them,” Winnie told Northside People. “As it is I have to get a taxi to St Margaret’s to visit them. Surely they could be relocated somewhere closer to their relatives. It will be tougher for them as they will be leaving all the friends they have known for many years.”

According to Winnie, her sister is unaware of the big move due to senility. However, the relocation will be particularly difficult for 70-year-old Jamesie.
“He has to go to the Mater three times a week for dialysis,” Winnie explained. “So he will now have to travel from Balbriggan to the Mater every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“The first we heard of all this was nearly three weeks ago when we got a letter from St Margaret’s saying that Mary would have to find alternative accommodation. The HSE is searching for new accommodation for both Mary and Jamesie now as you couldn’t think of separating them. There isn’t a lot any of us can do. They have to leave St Margaret’s after all these years and move to wherever can take them in.”

The decision to move the elderly residents was taken earlier this month by St Margaret’s and it comes after last November’s decision by the Health Services Executive (HSE) to suspend admissions to the nursing home following inspections.

Local politician Joe Costello TD (Lab) raised the matter of the Keogh couple’s relocation in the Dáil. “The manner is which this happened should have been done in a proper and dignified way,” he said. “The families have been treated dreadfully in terms of the curt letter they received.”

Ten public patients will be moved from the nursing home in the coming weeks. When contacted, St Margaret’s declined to make any comment.

A spokesperson for the HSE said a lack of places in nursing homes in Dublin had led to Mary and Jamesie’s situation. “A multi disciplinary team was set up by the HSE to look at finding alternative accommodation for residents, taking into account their current needs,” the spokesperson said. £This team has been working with the families towards finding alternative nursing home accommodation. There is a scarcity of nursing home beds within the locality and we are endeavouring to accommodate people within as close as possible proximity.”

The HSE has asked St Margaret’s to reconsider removing current contract patients “in the best interest of the individual patients and their families.”