Plans for sale of St Brigid's Nursing Home halted

Aideen O’Flaherty

PLANS for the sale of the former site of St Brigid’s Nursing Home in Crooksling, Brittas, have been halted by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, so he can carry out a review of the planned sale of the site – bolstering hopes that the site could be retained by the HSE and developed into a retirement village.

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St Brigid's nursing home, Brittas

As reported in The Echo last June, the HSE’s Estate Management department were waiting for internal permission to put the nursing home and the surrounding grounds on the market, after the nursing home had shut and the residents had been moved.

St Brigid’s closed in late March, and the majority of the residents were transferred to the new Tymon North Community Nursing Home in Tallaght.

A total of 17 former Crooksling residents died following the move from Crooksling, and 12 of these deaths were Covid-related.

The HSE added that the move was carried out ahead of schedule during the pandemic, as there were no single rooms in St Brigid’s for residents to self-isolate in.

The HSE’s plans for the sale of the Crooksling site, which was developed in the early 1900s after it was donated to the community to serve as a sanatorium for people with tuberculosis, and later became a nursing home, has been met with frustration in the local area.

Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan, who is also on the Mid-Leinster Regional Health Forum, has called for the site to be retained by the HSE and to be transformed into “a centre of excellence” for care of the elderly, and to follow a retirement village model, as opposed to a nursing home facility development.

Cllr O’Donovan contacted Minister Donnelly earlier this year to request a meeting in relation to Crooksling, alongside Wicklow County Council councillors Gerry O’Neill, Patsy Glennon and Joe Behan.

Following on from this, Minister Donnelly recently confirmed that he had instructed the HSE that the site is not to go on the market until he has reviewed the case around the sale.

Cllr O’Donovan told The Echo: “We have been in touch with Minister Donnelly to impress upon him the value of the Crooksling site.

“It’s only zoned for nursing home use, and the only person who would buy it would be a private nursing home operator.”

Explaining why she thinks the site should instead follow the model of a retirement village, Cllr O’Donovan said: “This is even more relevant in Covid times, because we’ve seen that the nursing home model doesn’t work – we need to find new ways of taking care of our elderly and vulnerable loved ones.

“We want to develop this site into a centre of excellence for elder care, and we need to look at a different model, like the Japanese model of self-contained older persons’ communities.

“We see the potential in this site for it to become an independent, older persons’ living community, and that’s what we need to happen.

“We’ve discovered to the cost of so many families in recent months that the nursing home model doesn’t work, and it can’t manage outbreaks.

“This is a huge opportunity for us to show how a new model of elder care can be done.”

Cllr O’Donovan is hoping to secure a meeting with Minister Donnelly, alongside Cllrs O'Nell, Glennon and Behan, in the coming weeks to put their case forward for the site to be retained by the HSE and to be transformed into an older persons’ independent living area.

The land at Crooksling was scheduled to go on the market in the first quarter of 2021.

The HSE previously stated that St Brigid’s Nursing Home, Crooksling, had to close because it did not “meet the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland”.

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