By Brian Geraghty, Epilepsy Care Foundation & Prof. Norman Delanty, Beaumont Hospital and RCSI
The Epilepsy Care Foundation has purchased land for the development of an All-Ireland Epilepsy Care and Research Centre (AIEC).
The proposed Centre is being developed and operated by the Epilepsy Care Foundation, a registered charity which also currently provides allotments to people with epilepsy and associated disorders to aid rehabilitation and improve life skills and quality of life.
The purpose of the Centre is to provide assessment, care, respite and education/ training for individuals with epilepsy and related disorders, and for families and carers, on the whole island of Ireland, both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The Centre will be open to public and private patients. Initially it will cater for adults; however, it is envisaged that it will include paediatric care in the future.
Currently epilepsy care, and complex epilepsy care in particular, is delivered in Ireland in a somewhat haphazard fashion, and is shared between primary care (general practice), secondary care (hospitals without specific epileptology expertise), and tertiary care (hospitals with specific neurology and epileptology expertise). In addition, patients with learning disability and autism associated with epilepsy are cared for in a variety of community and institutional settings, often without specific robust epilepsy expertise input.
Currently, the national epilepsy surgery unit is based at the Epilepsy Programme and Department of Neurosurgery at Beaumont Hospital. It has four video-EEG monitoring beds and struggles to meet demands for its service. There are also two video-EEG beds at Cork University Hospital, with close links to the epilepsy surgical programme at Beaumont. Despite these current invaluable resources, there remains a significant unmet need in the care of individuals with epilepsy and related conditions (and their families) on the island of Ireland.
The Centre will be an All-Ireland health facility and thus qualifies under the terms of the North South Collaboration Agreement (“The Good Friday Agreement”).
The Centre will be located on lands procured by the Epilepsy Care Foundation between Swords and Malahide, close to the current allotments site. It will consist of a new state-of-the-art specially designed building to care for both in-patients and out-patients with epilepsy and related disorders. Located on landscaped grounds to provide a holistic care approach to patients and their families, the site will also contain a long-term care facility and an RCSI Epilepsy & Neurology Research Facility.
The advantages of the site on the Malahide Road include its proximity to Beaumont Hospital, access to the road and rail network to Northern Ireland, and its closeness to Dublin Airport. It is planned that the Centre will have a link with Beaumont Hospital, and will help reduce the pressure on in-patient beds both at Beaumont and other hospitals.
The Centre will provide 40 beds in total. 10 will be full assessment beds, with the capability for continuous video-EEG monitoring and other test facilities. 10 beds will be used for short term assessment and medication adjustment. A further 10 will be reserved for short term respite care and the final 10 beds will be for assisted living for longer term care and management.
It will also contain the following facilities:
- Full test facilities such as EEG, MRI and genomic testing.
- An outpatient EEG department to include two dedicated video EEG assessment rooms, with further capability for two ambulatory video EEG units for outpatient home and residential assessment for adult and paediatric patients.
- High resolution MRI imaging with a 3 / 5 Tesla MRI with the capability for anatomic and functional neuroimaging.
- Outpatient and consultancy rooms, including rooms for patient and family education.
- Rooms for advanced nurse practitioner consultations and for neuropsychological testing, counselling and therapy.
- An educational, training and development centre, including conference facilities and family care.
- A Wellness area in a landscaped environment with rest and activity rooms
The Centre will maintain a direct academic and teaching link with the RCSI who will also collaborate on genomic testing. There will be close links with the magnetoencephography (MEG) imaging unit at the Magee Campus at Ulster University. We also envisage working in close collaboration with Epilepsy Ireland in their ongoing outreach, training and self-management programs.
This is an ambitious project, one which will benefit thousands of people with epilepsy and their families on this island. The procurement of the land is a major step forward towards achieving our vision of providing “timely access to good quality integrated epilepsy care in Ireland”.
The procurement has been made possible with the assistance of philanthropy. However, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done before we can finalise and open the Centre, which we hope to achieve within the next five years.
Similar to all projects of this nature, the funding required will be considerable and The Epilepsy Care Foundation are asking for assistance in this through donations, philanthropy or corporate assistance. To find out more, see www.epilepsycare.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For ongoing updates on the project please follow Epilepsy Care Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.
The Epilepsy Care Foundation CLG was founded in 2009 and is a registered charity. Company Number 20071592. CHY Number 18588. Trustees: Barry McClean (Chairman); Brian Geraghty (Secretary); Prof Norman Delanty; Bertie Ahern; Dr John Craig, Jennifer Boyle and Vincent Maguire.