Protest outside Dáil to save vital dementia care home in Shankill

by Rebecca Ryan

A petition, signed by more than 10,000 people to save dementia care home St Joseph’s in Shankill, was handed into the Dáil last Thursday.

The dementia care facility, which is the largest of its kind in Ireland, faces closure if it does not receive increased funding. 

The facility, managed by St John of God Hospital, has 60 live-in residents, provides 120 places per week in its day-care service, and has two respite beds.

Earlier this month, families and staff members received a letter from management saying they have been operating at a significant and unsustainable deficit for over seven years, and services could cease as early as the end of this year, if public funding cannot be secured.

The letter explained that St John of God Hospital has covered significant shortfalls for several years to the tune of €7m, but another €1.2m is needed.

People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett told Dublin Gazette that the closure of the home would be a “total disaster” for service users, and is “demanding” government to commit “necessary funds”.

“The closure would be completely unthinkable, and a total disaster for dementia suffers and their families, and it simply cannot be allowed to happen.  

“What we need is the government and the HSE to commit the funds necessary to meet the high dependency needs of many of the residents and service users.”

Management have been campaigning for funding, in order to avoid closure and are meeting with the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund, in the hope of agreeing a more equitable and sustainable financial solution for St Joseph’s.

Retired opera singer Patricia Dolan, who is living with dementia and attends St Joseph’s day care three days a week, was at the public protest outside the Dáil last week and sung ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’ at the gates of Leinster House.

Many messages of support have been coming in for St Josephs, with one saying: “Well done and thank you on behalf of Mum and all the families.” Another wrote: “Well done to you all today. Let’s hope Simon Harris is listening.”

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