RESPITE care at Lifford hospital has been suspended leaving vulnerable people and their families without much-needed help.
Carers have been informed the short-stay service has been postponed while essential maintenance work is carried out.
For some carers who look after vulnerable, ill or disabled individuals, respite is a key release valve. At Lifford hospital patients are admitted for one week every six weeks to give carers time on their own.
Following the suspension of the service other healthcare facilities have agreed to accept patients. But with respite waiting lists of their own, it is not clear how many beds they will be able to offer individuals normally cared for in Lifford. The HSE has confirmed the suspension is likely to last six to eight weeks.
One carer who provides round-the-clock help to a relative said they could not fault the treatment and compassion delivered by the staff at Lifford hospital. Following representations they have been given a week’s respite elsewhere for the month of August. They added though that the loss of the service will be a big blow for many people and families.
“Respite is great because it gives people like myself and other families a break every six weeks.” they said.
“I can’t fault Lifford hospital at all, they have been brilliant and they provide an invaluable service. That one week gives you time to recharge the batteries and catch up on other things. It is so important and it does wonders for the mental health,” they added.
John Quinn, head of the Friends of Lifford Hospital campaign group, said that the maintenance work being carried out to the building is vital and something they have lobbied for.
“I am aware that Lifford is not accepting admissions at the moment and possibly that is due to health and safety because repairs are being made to the roof and the foliage is all being cut back,” Mr Quinn said.
“From that point of view it is a positive because the roof in particular is something we have raised repeatedly. And hopefully when the work is completed we will see the hospital being utilised to its full potential.”
Confirming respite has been put on hold a HSE spokesperson said, “Respite services at Lifford Community Hospital have been suspended to allow for works to be completed at the hospital. These works are expected to take between six and eight weeks. The unit manager has been linking in with families and alternative respite can be arranged in cases of emergencies.”