Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Mount Alvernia care capacity doubled

Elderly set for major transfer from St. Bernard’s

Mount Alvernia will almost double its number of residents tomorrow in a major logistical operation that will see 50 new arrivals transferred from beds at the old St Bernard’s Hospital and 15 new direct entries from the waiting list.

The capital costs involved in the major remodification and expansion of the home has been £3.3m. The rise to some 137 is absorbed by the increased capacity resulting from a major refurbishment and the recruitment of an additional 13 trained nurses and 54 nursing care assistants into the Elderly Care Agency.

The move, ahead of the transfer of St Bernard’s Hospital itself to the new Europort premises - expected to be officially activated on Saturday – should resolve a long-standing problem of patients that were ready for discharge from hospital but had no suitable alternative care.

The refurbishment takes in wards that had long been closed and accommodation that was used by the nuns when they ran the home. Additionally there are new staff and physiotherapy facilities in place as well as a major recreation area with an acoustic door.

Tomorrow’s transfer will be carried out by the GHA and ECA with the assistance of the specialised transport provided by the Friends of Mount Alvernia.

In a statement yesterday evening Government announced the move saying that four high priority cases from the community have already been accommodated and the other 11 persons from the community will be moving into their new home within the next two weeks.

Works have entailed:

- the renewal of mechanical and electrical services;
- the renewal of existing lifts;
- the provision of an additional lift;
- the replacement of all windows;
- the replacement of all flooring;
- the reconfiguration of the majo-rity of existing bedrooms from four bedded rooms to twin and single rooms;
- the provision of 29 extra single and twin bedrooms;
- the creation of extra bathrooms and refitting of existing ones specially designed for people with mobility problems;
- the creation of more recreational areas;
- the redecoration and refurbish-ment of the interior of the building.

“The general fabric of the building has also been improved in quality and appearance, using a décor and colour schemes designed to given a sense of warmth and homeliness to the whole of the home,”
said a spokesperson.

The third floor is housing high dependency nursing cases.

The new facility will not only bring important benefits to both existing and new residents, but will provide a much improved working environment for staff. It has also created a significant number of job opportunities. The major recruitment exercise has involved the opening of an additional 67 nursing posts plus a number of ancilliary staff. The total cost of this additional extra staff will be in excess of £1m per annum,
Social Affairs Minister, Yvette del Agua.

Government is confident that the injection of very considerable human and financial resources, coupled with the dedication and commitment of the staff, will have the effect of providing our elderly citizens with “a home away from home” where they can live the rest of their days in the warm and caring environment that they deserve,” she said congratulating the Management and staff of the Elderly Care Agency for ensuring minimum disruption to residents throughout the extent of the refurbishment works.

She also thanked the Friends of Mount Alvernia for their continuing and invaluable support.

This project forms part of the Government’s extensive programme to enhance and modernise elderly care services in Gibraltar. Other elements for the programme include the introduction of a “Care at home” service (domiciliary care) and the building of homes specially designed for the elderly (eg Bishop Canilla House) of which an additional 200 are about to start construction at Waterport Road.

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