Donegal families protest over respite services

Seaview House in Mountcharles closed in February due to staff shortages

Staff Reporter

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Staff Reporter

Donegal families protest over respite services

Parents and carers of children and adults with intellectual disabilities have protested about the reduction of services at a respite centre in south Donegal.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) said this week that respite services at Seaview House in Mountcharles have resumed on a phased basis following its closure due to staff shortages.
The announcement from the HSE came as more than 50 people protested at the closure outside the HSE headquarters in Ballyshannon on Tuesday.
The facility provides respite for children of six years up wards and adults ho suffer from intellectual disability or autism. Up to 100 families in south west Donegal benefit from the service.
The services include overnight respite, day respite and a drop-in service.
The HSE wrote to parents in February informing them that the facility was experiencing a temporary staff shortage due to staff transfers and retirements.
Catherine Kennedy, who son uses the facility, was one of those who protested on Tuesday. She said there had been very little communication from the HSE since February even though the center had been closed since the end of March.
“This has been going on for five years, it has closed several times and it has got worse since last September,” she said.
“It had been open seven nights a week and then it went down to four. My son uses the facility and 24 respite was being provided.”
Ms Kennedy said it is very important that the centre reopens and remains open.
“We need it open and we are concerned that if it opens again it could go back to the same in the next few months or a year,” she said.
“The importance of respite seems to be seriously underestimated by senior management. It is a vital service in our community and there are huge benefits to restoring it - clients are happy and enjoy it and carers get a chance to recharge the batteries.
“HSE managers need to start listening to carers and planning forward with regards to the future budgeting, staff and building requirements.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the HSE apologised for the curtailment of respite services at Seaview House.
“We are continuing to work with our colleagues in the National Recruitment Service to try to recruit and replace staff in as timely a manner as possible,” the HSE said.
“We acknowledge the upset and distress that this situation has caused to our clients and families, and we apologise unreservedly for this.
“The HSE wish to confirm that recruitment of staff has commenced and as of Monday 29th May respite services have resumed on a phased basis. We are very aware of the importance of this service for families in south Donegal and of the difficulties that this situation has caused for everyone involved. As such, we remain committed to ensuring that the respite service resumes on a full-time basis as soon as all the staffing vacancies are filled.”