Saturday 17 August 2019

A long road for town centre gem

Wygram Nursing Home. Eileen Underwood
Wygram Nursing Home. Eileen Underwood
James White and Anna Marie Kavanagh at the reception desk.
Staff members Mary Holland, Ella Bijos, Janet Fitzharris and Pat Sinnott in the kitchen.
Mary Connors and Betty Meyler reading the paper reading the latest local news in the Wexford People.
Wygram Nursing Home. Dining Room
Wygram Nursing Home. Audrey Moloney and Seamus Killeen
John Sheil relaxing in the grounds of Wygram Nursing Home. Inset: Eileen Underwood.
Eileen Underwood playing rings out in the sunshine.

By Esther Hayden

Twenty five residents have already made Wexford's newest care facility their home.

However only for a downturn in the economy way back in the now almost forgotten Celtic Tiger years Wygram Nursing Home might never have come to pass. Initially managing director James White along with partners Padraig Crotty, Dermot Murphy and Joe Fox wanted to build housing on the prime town centre site.

However this turned out to be a pipe dream and the germ of a state of the art town centre nursing home grew and just like mighty oaks from little acorns grow so too did Wygram with the home taking in its first residents at the end of May.

However it wasn't an easy road. 'It's taken us five years to get to here', said James. 'In fact the building process was the quickest part of it. But we got here in the end! We had a few false starts but as with every dream we persevered and here we are.

'We acquired the site in the Celtic Tiger times and we tried to build houses on the site but that didn't happen. At the time my own dad was in Knockeen Nursing Home and I felt a nursing home in a town centre location would be great for the town.

'I'm an accountant by profession and I knew Seamus Killeen who is our Director of Operations was involved with a lot of nursing homes so I spoke to him. At the time there was tax relief for nursing homes too so the idea grew from there.

'In the end we lost the tax relief but we kept with the idea of building a nursing home in the town.'

The first residents moved into Wygram Nursing Home at the end of May and residents were moved in on a phased basis with 25 residents now living there. Some residents came from other nursing homes within the county while for more it was their first time living in a shared community.

The nursing home has capacity for 71 residents with the majority of rooms being single rooms although six double rooms are available. These are suitable for siblings or couples. With 25 residents already in residence James expects that the home will be full within 12 months. The phased admissions are still ongoing and staff are also assessing applications on an ongoing basis. Residents are a mix of private patients and patients availing of the Fair Deal Scheme making town centre living a reality for people from all walks of life.

James feels that the community aspect of the town centre location is already being felt by residents. 'The location was key to this. It's unusual to have a nursing home right in the heart of the town and we really wanted to have a community feel to the home.

'Our whole ethos is about care within the community and we are also offering the use of Davitt House, our community building, free of charge to local groups on a quid pro quo basis which will benefit them and also give the residents another activity they can participate in if they wish to.

With a current staff of 53 people Director of Nursing Audrey Moloney, a Wexford native, expects that the staff will increase to 70 as more and more residents move in.

The building itself is impressively large although as it is on a sloped site it fits in with the largely residential area.

In addition to community integration family is another important focus at Wygram Nursing Home. There are no restrictions on visiting times allowing people to schedule visits around their own commitments and for residents receiving end of life care families are given special priority.

Wygram was a hive of activity during the visit with a very lively game of horseshoes going on in the sun drenched grounds while others simply poured over the newspaper discussing the happenings of the town and its environs. A mobile hairdresser that calls once a week had just left and many were sporting newly coiffured hair styles.

For several of the residents two visits from the children of John's Road School has been a highlight and there are also plans to work with students from the Diocesan Group. 'We want to be neighbours within the community', said James 'while providing and recognising residents' dignity.'

Wexford People

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