A CORK TD described the closure of East Cork’s only residential mental health facility as “unacceptable” in an Oireachtas committee meeting held to discuss the planned closure of Owenacurra Centre this week.
Fianna Fáil TD James O’Connor said he was “not at all satisfied by almost anything” he had heard at the meeting.
Mr O’Connor said the HSE was going to “strip” his area and constituency of its existing residential mental health care services.
Green Party Councillor Liam Quaide said the meeting on the Owenacurra Centre highlighted that the arguments to close the facility did not add up. Mr Quaide said Owenacurra Centre was neglected for some time before the decision to close.
“What is happening here is a dereliction of a duty of care for our most vulnerable service-users dressed up as concern for their safety.”
Michael Fitzgerald, Chief Officer Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, said there are currently 15 people residing at the centre.
At the meeting, he reiterated the HSE’s stance on the “difficult decision taken in June” to begin the process of ceasing services at Owenacurra Centre.
“Initially, the plan was to refurbish the centre but as we moved to the more detailed planning stage serious concerns emerged that any level of such refurbishment would not bring the building to the standard required.”
A HSE spokesperson previously said while the residential centre will close, they wish to continue using the site for supported living for people with mental health difficulties.
“The existing building on the site is still in place, and it is still home to residents. Our priority, for now, is to find the best possible alternative placements for residents. Our aim for the site is that is used for community-based supported-living, with supports in place on-site to allow people with mental health difficulties to live in the community.
“We should point out that East Cork currently benefits from a seven-day service from our community-based home-based treatment team. Wherever possible, it is our aim to assist anyone with mental health difficulties to live at home, in their communities.
“Supported housing with seven-day support available will facilitate this in the Midleton area. This model has been very successful elsewhere, and we will progress discussions with the local authority and other bodies as soon as possible.”