I wish to take this opportunity to wish all Members of the House a very happy new year.
I also hope it will be a happy new year, with good news for those who suffer with Alzheimer's disease, their carers and their family members in south Kildare. The clock is ticking for these people and the consequences of any decision regarding services could have far-reaching consequences. Currently an Alzheimer's day care centre serving people in south Kildare is located in Moore Abbey in Monasterevin. The centre is actually in the Laois constituency and my party colleague, Deputy Sean Fleming shares my concern about what is happening. I was scheduled to speak on this matter before Christmas and the matter is now even more urgent as another month has passed.
Last summer I was contacted by Ms Martina Foster whose father avails of the services of the day care centre in Moore Abbey. She and other service users had received correspondence to the effect that the unit was being relocated and that the days on which services would be provided would be reduced. Martina and her mother look after Martin's father, Peter and their lives are arranged around doing everything they can for him. Continuity of care and the maintenance of routine is of critical importance for Peter. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of Martina and other family members, we were able to extend the provision of services at Moore Abbey until April 2017. I wish to put on record my thanks to the staff at Moore Abbey in that regard.
The most pressing issue now is the location of the service from April 2017 onwards. This morning I spoke to the husband of a woman who attends Moore Abbey. He called me to express his gratitude for the fact that the service is continuing. However, he is obviously very concerned about what will happen when the location changes. He does not have any family living in Ireland and told me that the facility at Moore Abbey that his wife attends makes his life "almost bearable". They are shocking words for any person to utter about his or her loved one.
I have asked the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, about the plans for a property on Drogheda Street in Monasterevin, where the Alzheimer's day centre was initially located. The day care centre that was in that property has been moved out to Ballykelly Gaelic Football Club which is several miles outside Monasterevin. The unit on Drogheda Street is now empty and I understand that the HSE intends to refurbish the property and the refurbishment project will be going to design stage before the end of this month. This is the perfect time to include the Alzheimer's centre, currently based in Moore Abbey, in the plans for this property to give the centre a permanent home. If the centre is not included, where will the service users go? How can their families survive in the absence of an adequate service in south Kildare? Carers and family members are engaged in a constant battle to retain services. At present, they have to do without transport to and from the centre at Moore Abbey. Transport services were withdrawn in the last few months for a variety of reasons. The lack of transport is skewing the numbers presenting for the service because demand is based on having access to transport.
The carers of the people who attend the day care centre have had to contend with far too much. Their loved ones deserve this service and deserve transport to it. People who have dementia and Alzheimer's disease matter to the end of their lives. It is our duty to assist them in living until they pass away.