Bloomfield Quaker Care Centre celebrates 200 years

Over 100 people attended a special event held at Bloomfield, Stocking Lane, Dublin on 28 November 2012 to celebrate 200 years of Quakers caring for mentally ill and frail elderly people in Ireland.Friends from throughout the country were joined at the special celebration by politicians, healthcare workers and members of the local community.
 Since its foundation by Friends in 1812, Bloomfield has sought to provide person-centric mental health and nursing home care to elderly people and those with dementia. The original aim was to bring about a seminal change in the nature of care from restraint to ‘moral treatment’ and the Society proved to be pioneering in its care and treatment of both the elderly and mentally ill.
Bloomfield moved from its original Donnybrook site to its current location in Rathfarnham in 2005. In 2006 the Jewish Home of Ireland and in 2007 Kylemore Clinic (established by the MethodistChurch in Ireland) were also incorporated into Bloomfield, with the stage-2 completion in 2009 bringing the total bed count to 152.
Olivia Mitchell TD planted an oak tree in the grounds to mark the 200th anniversary before Chairman of the Board, John McNeilly (Rathfarnham Preparative Meeting), assured guests that the original mission of the founding members of the Quaker community remained at the core of everything Bloomfield does today.
CEO Damien O’Dowd then outlined how Bloomfield would respond to the needs of people with dementia and mental illness over the next few years.
Robin Goodbody (Monkstown Preparative Meeting) summarised the highlights of the 200-year history before Professor Michael Gill, Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, launched the newly-published book – ‘Bloomfield, A History 1812 – 2012’. The book, which literally arrived hot off the presses, is the result of great teamwork and painstaking research by Glynn Douglas (Monkstown Preparative Meeting), Robin Goodbody, Alice Mauger and John Davey.*
Prof Michael Gill, keynote speaker for the evening, spoke about “exciting advances” in genomic medicine and how this was being applied in psychiatry, with particular emphasis on alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy.
He said Trinity was delighted to be associated with Bloomfield: “I have visited Bloomfield on quite a few occasions and Ive been really amazed by what has been happening here. Bloomfield is an important resource for the College for teaching medical and healthcare students and for offering research opportunities and we look forward to continuing our relationship into the future.”
Damien O’Dowd, CEO of Bloomfield Health Services, said: “The marking of 200 years of providing treatment and care by Bloomfield is a significant achievement for the organisation and is a tribute to the steadfastness of the original mission to provide person-centred quality care to those with mental health needs and to frail elderly. The change in society over that period of time has been immense but our mission and the focus of our service provision has remained strong.
“Today at Bloomfield our commitment to our patients and residents, and the treatment and care provided to them, continues to be our focal point and the core of our mission. As we look towards the future, our continued desire to meet the expanding needs of our older generation is to provide a greater scope of services to include families and supported by the most progressive education and research.”
John McNeilly, Chairman, said Bloomfield was constantly balancing its desire to provide leading edge person-centred care while meeting the constantly changing and developing standards from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Mental Health Commission (MHC).
“Bloomfield’s strategic plan for years 2013 through 2015 is suggesting a slight change of direction, with a re-balancing of our nursing home and approved centre beds to allow for the development of new services around day care provision, respite, acute services and the provision of rapid assessment clinics,” said John. “To reflect the new services being offered, Bloomfield Care Centre will now be known as Bloomfield Health Services incorporating BloomfieldHospital and New Lodge Nursing Home.”
“Bloomfield Health Services has partnered with Trinity College Dublin, giving students the chance to spend time in Bloomfield, to develop hands-on experience and learning opportunities with our residents, all under the strict monitoring and tutelage of our medical and nursing teams. Bloomfield has also partnered with the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, with the commencement of a Tuesday Club and Alzheimer’s Café within our facility.
“Bloomfield has engaged more closely with our surrounding community by starting a series of public lectures, with topics ranging from “Diagnosis of Dementia: Where to From Here?”, “Keeping it All Together” and “Relaxation for Everyday Living”. Attendance has been very encouraging and the feedback has been very positive. A repeat series is being considered for the Spring/Autumn of next year. We are also engaging with local medical professionals, mainly aimed at GPs and members of health care teams in our area, offering an educational lecture from our consultant psychiatrist and other guest speakers.”
After the speeches everyone enjoyed a splendid meal provided by Compass Group and Olivia Mitchell TD cut a specially-commissioned cake, supplied by Superquinn.
Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, had hoped to attend the celebration but due to work commitments in the Dáil was unable to attend on the evening. She did, however, send a message of congratulations in which she recognised the commitment and dedication of Bloomfield to people with mental health problems and older people.
“The delivery of mental health care services has come a long way since Bloomfield first opened its doors back in 1812 and Bloomfield itself has been very much part of that change,” she said. “Even today, we see that this important service is continuing to develop and adapt for the benefit of all their clients and family members.”                 Fiona Murdoch

*‘Bloomfield, A History 1812 – 2012’ is a beautifully-presented book which captures the life of Bloomfield over the years. A small number of copies are available for purchase at €20 from Bloomfield reception.  Also available by mail order from qhist@eircom.netat €20.65 including post and packing.