St Michael’s Psychiatric Unit officially closed on Tuesday this week, with patients being transferred to Kilkenny while no new inpatients are to be admitted to the centuries old institution.
On Friday, the HSE South issued a statement outlining the major changes taking place in mental health services across the South East. Pat Healy, Regional Director of Operations, HSE South said: “The priority for the HSE South is to deliver a first class mental health service to people in South Tipperary. The implementation of the overall change programme in our mental health services has always been underpinned by the delivery of a modern, safe and responsive mental health service in line with ‘A Vision for Change.’
“This is the culmination of five years work and we are now in the position to provide a comprehensive range of community based services to people enabling them to remain in their own home and community to the greatest extent possible. This should significantly improve people’s care and quality of life, supporting them to live independently and avoid admission to hospital if possible.”
Some service users and families are still concerned that the replacement model of care - consisting of outreach “community health teams” and a “crisis/respite” house - may not provide the same level of care for service users in the county as the outgoing model. Two new Acute Day Services (Day Hospitals) have been opened in both Clonmel and Cashel as part of the changeover.
Meanwhile, the HSE also stated it is “important to acknowledge the decision of the High Court on 27th April confirming the legal status of the Clonmel/Cashel agreement and, the HSE South in finalising the implementation of this major change programme in the area in line with A Vision for Change, is fully compliant with all legal requirements.”
Mr. Healy concluded: “Change can be a challenging process and I want to acknowledge the contribution and commitment of staff at every level in bringing this about. In line with best practice nationally and internationally, this plan sees our mental health services moving from a hospital based model to providing more care in communities and in clients’ own homes.”