Campaigners urge HSE to reverse decision to close East Cork residential care centre

Campaigners urge HSE to reverse decision to close East Cork residential care centre

Parents and relatives of residents of a residential care centre due to close in October are worried loved ones will have nowhere else to go.

Owenacurra Mental Health Centre in Midleton, East Cork, is due to close on October 31.

Residents and their families were informed in June of the decision which, according to the HSE, was taken because the building where the centre is based is “not fit for purpose”.

However, families have described the decision to close the unit as a “bombshell”.

Sinn Féin TD Pat Buckley said the decision should be overturned and he expressed concern for staff at risk of losing their jobs, including canteen staff.

He said the HSE cyberattack has meant that no parliamentary questions are being answered. He wants to know why the HSE has not invested more in the centre.

While also operating a daycare facility, the centre is home to 19 residents. Those who currently use the service have a range of conditions, including schizophrenia and bipolar disease. Residents are aged between their early 30s and early 90s.

Phased basis

The centre is being closed on a phased basis and while some will be re-housed in other HSE facilities in Cork, others could have to return home.

“Cork Kerry Community Healthcare took the difficult decision to close the Owenacurra Centre in Midleton as the building is not fit for purpose,” said the HSE.

“The centre is a long-term residential centre for people with mental health difficulties. It currently has 19 residents.

“We have informed residents, staff and the Mental Health Commission that the centre will close on a phased basis between now and October 31, 2021.

“We told residents, staff and local public representatives of the closure in June, and have consulted with residents on an ongoing basis since then.

“This was a difficult decision, but the building which houses the 19 residents is simply not fit for purpose.

“We planned to refurbish the building, but as work progressed on those plans it became clear that they would not be enough to bring the building to the standard rightly required by the Mental Health Commission.”

Speaking on 96fm’s Opinion Line, a mental health activist known as Rebecca said campaigners cannot understand the decision.

“If the justification for shutting down the centre is defects in the building, it is very strange that they will be left there until October. It can’t be that imminent,” she said.

“It is very strange that the HSE would shoot itself in the foot in that way.”

Many of the residents will have nowhere else to go, she said.

“People have their lives there and can visit their friends and enjoy their place in the community.

“A lot of them are elderly as well. A lot of the residents are worried.

“Nobody seems to know what is going to happen with the residents. Some of them have lived there for 30 years.

So it’s not just a centre to them, it’s a home, and they don’t know any other home.”

“It’s bewildering, it’s a bombshell.

“I definitely think the HSE should look at what they have actually managed to achieve with the centre and to value it.”

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