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Cork Nursing Home shuts Amid Pandemic

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

Cara House, a Cork nursing home is set to close in January, despite pleas from locals and experienced carers.

Cara House in Blackpool on the northside of Cork city opened over thirty years ago to meet the needs of the elderly in the community following the closure of the North Infirmary Hospital. The board of management announced plans to shut the doors of the 25-bed facility last month. They attributed their decision to a reduction in occupancy at the facility and the challenges posed by Covid 19. There were calls made for the HSE to take over the running of the site and vigils were held every Wednesday night outside the facility. Staff member Majella Lynch says that arising out of the new restrictions they have had no choice but to cancel their weekly vigils outside the home. Staff and the families of patients feel a certain helplessness, she says.

"We do have a stay until January but that is only a HIQA requirement," she said. "We have met with the board but there is nothing positive. It is daunting for people. They are afraid of what is going to happen. "One woman left on Tuesday and she said it was her second time leaving her home. That she had left her own home and then her home here. We have set up an online petition and are asking people to sign." Majella says staff are also concerned for their own future employment, Majella says that the closure of Mount Cara would be a great loss to the local community. "At the start of lockdown we had a resident with a temperature but no other signs of Covid," she said. "We cordoned off the corridor. We took all the precautions. Did all the staff and patient testing. When she got her results back she was positive but made a full recovery. Why would you move people from a safe environment in the middle of a pandemic to larger nursing homes where they may not be as safe?" Retired nurse Patricia Donovan whose elderly sister has been a resident at Cara House for 11 years says that she has contacted five nursing homes who are all 'polite' but non committal.

"This was done with indecent haste. I can't say enough good things about Cara House both psychologically and in looking after people. "

Thomas Gould, local Sinn Fein TD for Cork-North Central called for the HSE to intervene and to take over the facility.

"People should be cared for in their own communities and these residents have made Cara House their home. The staff and other residents are like family to them and it would be a disgrace if the HSE allow this to close." Mount Cara has 14 residents. The facility was recently had a positive HIQA report.

From the Statement of Mount Cara Management Board:

As a Board we have taken the hard decision to begin the process of winding down Mount Cara in a planned format. All staff have been fully briefed of the situation. We have also been in contact with all residents’ families and will continue to keep them informed as timelines are finalised. The new challenges posed by Covid-19, along with the reduction in occupancy have led to this decision. Mount Cara is a residential facility for older people and although it complies with Nursing Home Standards, it is not covered by the Fair Deal Scheme for residents."

Cara House was established by the late Bishop Michael Murphy and is run by a board of management that is separate from the Diocese of Cork and Ross.

Local Community activist Paddy O'Brien stated that the shortage of nursing homes nationwide is now so acute that families search death notices to discover if any deaths have occurred in these facilities.

The HSE said the building is unsuitable for the type of residential care required in the future, a statement whose meaning is somewhat unclear.

'My mother has value and she deserves better': Heartbreak over closure of Cork nursing home - https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/My-mother-has-value-and-she-deserves-better-Heartbreak-over-closure-of-Cork-nursing-home--c0a47485-1542-4b9a-860a-20edd34bf3cc-ds

Mount Cara Facility - https://www.hiqa.ie/areas-we-work/find-a-centre/mount-cara

Staff and families left shocked and saddened as Cork respite care home to close - http://www.corkbeo.ie/news/local-news/staff-families-left-shocked-saddened-18588490

Call for Cork care home to reverse closure decision - https://www.rte.ie/news/2020/0801/1156879-cork-care-home/

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