News that patients in the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, will have their care plans independently reviewed this week have been questioned by independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The Roscommon-Galway TD described the hastiness with which patients’ family members are expected to participate in the review process as cynical.

Commenting on the matter, he said: “I understand that families are being notified today of intentions to carry out the review this week, with a Consultant Specialist in Psychiatry of Later Life – Dr. Jim Anderson – set to carry it out.

“Given that this independent review was meant to take place by last November, it is unacceptable that families are being notified at such short notice to attend a meeting with the consultant later this week – which may lead to some patients’ family members being unable to meet with the consultant.

“One would be forgiven for thinking that this is just a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise, which would support the belief that the HSE is trying to close this unit by stealth.”

Continuing, Fitzmaurice raised concerns that not all of the patients in the Rosalie Unit would have family members available to speak with the consultant on their behalf.

“It is imperative that all 12 of the residents in the Rosalie Unit have family members or an appointed advocate who can participate in the review process on their behalf – otherwise the review’s findings would be inadequate.

“The Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, must not renege on the promise that was made to the patients’ family members that this unit would remain open.

“The Rosalie Unit can cater for up to 34 patients, however it has seen its numbers drop to 12 since an embargo was placed on new admissions in September 2016 – a decision which needs to be overturned so other patients can benefit from the care that is provided.

“All of the patients living in the Rosalie Unit have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other mental health issues. Many of the patients have been living in the care unit for a number of years and consider it their home. Moving them now would create a lot of undue stress for them.

“It is crucially important that we keep the quality of patients’ lives to the forefront of this discussion and that they continue to receive care in the Rosalie Unit.”

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