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Lack of facilities for patients with additional needs discussed by TUH board

By Paul Mulholland - 17th Dec 2023


A complaint was discussed at a meeting of Tallaght University Hospital’s (TUH) board about the lack of facilities for a patient with additional needs.

At the meeting in September, Ms Sandra McCarthy, interim Director of Nursing and Integrated Care, briefed the board about the negative experience of a patient who came through the hospital’s emergency department (ED).

According to minutes of the meeting, board member Dr Martin Lyes (PhD) outlined concerns regarding the presentation “in the context of the ED environment, communication, and lack of support for the patient during their experience in the department”.

Ms McCarthy said the ED Symphony system has been updated to identify the needs of patients with intellectual disabilities or sensory requirements.

The meeting heard that the introduction of a ‘health passport’ will assist in outlining the future requirements of patients to clinicians.

In recent years, the HSE has introduced health passports to support people with intellectual disabilities to express their needs in healthcare settings.

Ms McCarthy said TUH was also installing a sensory cubicle within the ED.

TUH had an intellectual disability liaison clinical nurse manager who was “increasing staff awareness and providing education in this regard”.

In October 2022, a HIQA inspection report noted that a number of person-centred initiatives were underway to improve the experience of patients attending the ED.

However, it also outlined a lack of isolation rooms for infection control and concerns regarding the designated psychiatric assessment rooms in the ED.

The report stated that staffing shortages meant the dementia-assessment rooms in the department were not always available.

A spokesperson for TUH told the Medical Independent the sensory cubicle referenced during the meeting is scheduled to open shortly.

Specialist lighting has been installed in the cubicle “to cater for those with sensory issues”, according to the spokesperson.

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