ONE OF Fermanagh’s best known nursing homes is set to close with the loss of up to 40 jobs
Staff at Shannagh Nursing Home heard the stunning news at a meeting at the home.
Up to 40 people, between full and part-time staff, could now be unemployed as a result of the closure, which is expected at the end of the month
And 15 patients, many of them very elderly, will be looking for alternative care.
Reacting to the distressing news, Councillor John Coyle said he had contacted Taoiseach Enda Kenny urging a “policy change to allow elderly people in Donegal and Leitrim to avail of care services in the North like Shannagh”.
The introduction of a “Fair Deal” scheme by the HSE in the South has prevented patients from using nursing home facilities in the North.
Shannagh’s location on the Donegal border meant it had taken in quite a few patients from the South, but this is no longer the case.
It is huge blow to the economy of the Belleek and surrounding areas.
An emotional Shannagh owner Hugh Tunney said it was “devastating for me and my family and our staff”.
“It was not a decision we took lightly and we tried everything both physically and mentally to keep the business afloat”.
“Since we opened on November 2 1992 we have tried to run a family-oriented home where patients got the very best of care”.
“And we have always tried to employ local people and buy our needs from local suppliers.
“But due to lack of admissions from the Western Trust and the resulting sustained period of low occupancy we are unable to continue”.
Mr Tunney said that every effort would be made to help current patients secure alternative arrangements.
The closure is particularly untimely given that the home had received a glowing report only last June about the quality of its care.
Some of the many complimentary comments from patients and staff said the “food and care in the home was excellent”
Other comments said the staff made patients feel “cared and loved”, and “It is the next best thing to our own home”.
At its peak, Shannagh provided a top quality service for up to 30 patients in a scenic rural setting.
But this had declined to 15 patients in recent times.
And a few years ago, it had four residents aged over 100 including Father Ambrose O’ Gorman who passed away at the age of 102 two months ago.
One of the highlights for Shannagh was the visit of former President Mary McAleese in 2001.
Other celebrities to visit the home included Fine Gael Taoiseach John Bruton and country singing legend Daniel O’Donnell.
Meanwhile in a statement Hugh Tunney added: Our primary objective is to provide the highest standard of care to the residents and therefore the Home will continue to operate until suitable alternative accommodation is found for each one of them. Residents, relatives and staff have been notified and will be kept fully informed. The intention is to manage the home to ensure that residents incur minimal disruption.
“Lines of communication have been opened with the relevant regularity authorities and care reviews for the residents are a priority. I would like to thank the people from Belleek, Garrison and surrounding areas both north and south of the border for their support over the last twenty one years”.
And Mr Coyle added: “This is devastating news for the entire Belleek community. Shannagh nursing home has provided first class care for all its residents for many years and will be sorely missed by those living there, their families and the community.
He added that he will be contacting northern health Minister Edwin Poots. “It’s now clear for everyone to see that the Transforming Your Care agenda is making it difficult for homes like Shannagh to survive. It’s imperative that we see immediate action to ensure the residents are rehomed to avoid unnecessary stress.”