A Daughter’s Reflection

Dr Miriam Kennedy is a Consultant Psychiatrist here at Highfield Healthcare, working with our Mental Health Services. Recently she shared her personal experience with dementia and caring for her elderly parents with Irish Times Health+.

In this article, Dr Miriam recalls her and her sister’s experience of finding the right nursing home for their mother – “who had developed symptoms which we later found out were part and parcel of a dementia.”

Below is an excerpt from the piece, where Dr Miriam explains what a nursing home meant to her family.

A nursing home is not a hospital.

It is not a residence.

It is an extension of your own family home . . . where you entrust your loved one to a home. It must be somewhat homely. Yes, the hygiene was good, yes the food was good, but more importantly, we could visit any time. My father could go every day, and even at Christmas, if she could not come to us, then he could spend Christmas dinner with them. We were welcomed.”

In the context of the current COVID-19 crisis, the distance that families must endure away from their loved ones, is a struggle we are very familiar with here at Highfield Healthcare, and we couldn’t be more grateful to the families and friends of our residents for doing what they can to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to every husband, wife, son, daughter, grandchild, friend, loved one – you have supported us in this extremely difficult time, and helped keep everyone safe by maintaining your (physical) distance.

As we head towards a return to somewhat normality, we are eager to reunite families but are also incredibly conscious that the health and wellbeing of our residents is paramount. We will continue to contact all families regarding any changes to visiting restrictions and look forward to the day when we can all be together again.

Read Dr Miriam’s full article on the Irish Times website – here.

Thanks a Million!

Over the past few months, we have seen communities banding together in the joint effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Here at Highfield Healthcare, we have felt the incredible support from local businesses and organisation, who have taken the time to acknowledge and honour the efforts of our amazing frontline staff.

Food Glorious Food

The Comet Bar in Santry for delivered free pizza, The Greenhouse chefs’ project delivered 2 course meals to our staff working in our isolation units and Krispy Kreme in Blanchardstown donated dozens of donuts to keep our staff full.

The Gift of Giving

We have been blown away with the many generous donations of gifts for our frontline staff from a number of very generous businesses. Thank you to Butler’s Chocolates, Dunnes Stores, Advanced Vending, Spotlight Oral Care and Cosmetics Online for thinking of our frontline staff and showing them the appreciation they deserve.


We would like to wholeheartedly thank you all for your incredible donations and gifts. You have helped keep our frontline staff smiling through one of the most difficult times any of us have ever faced.

Cooking Up Kindness

To support their local community during the Covid-19 crisis Redmond Fine Foods have joined forces with the very talented chefs Mickael Viljanen, Mark Moriarty and Paddy Lee (formerly) of The Greenhouse restaurant on Dawson Street, Dublin.

The Greenhouse chefs’ project will see the team cooking at least 200 meals a day to be distributed to front-line workers.

Highfield Healthcare staff working in our isolation units were delighted to receive their first delivery on 21st April, which was shared out across both day and night shifts.

The group launched a GoFundMe page to finance the not-for-profit project, and are hoping to raise enough money to keep the project going as long as is needed. If you are able to donate, please visit – https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid-19-meal-support-for-emergency-responders

Read more about this project here: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/food-and-drink/coronavirus-michelin-starred-chefs-dish-out-meals-for-front-line-workers-1.4223115

Connecting with ‘Comfort Words’

On Monday, March 23rd, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) announced a brand new initiative to combat the effects that social distancing can have on both older people and young children.

Comfort Words is a national initiative encouraging children to reach out to older people in nursing homes during Covid-19.

Comfort Words is encouraging children to support older people during this difficult time by writing to them. With almost 30,000 people across the country in nursing home care, NHI believes children can fulfil an important role in promoting positivity amongst residents and maintaining contacts in the weeks ahead by connecting with them.

Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO, explained “Comfort Words does not have to be unique to older people in nursing homes and can also be replicated for older people living in the community. We would also encourage people to utilise the free postcards being provided by An Post for connection with residents in nursing homes.”

As proud NHI members, Highfield Healthcare would welcome any messages for our wonderful residents. Below you will find the addresses for our three care of the elderly services;

Elmhurst Nursing HomeAlzheimer’s Care CentreHighfield Hospital
Hampstead Avenue,
Off Ballymun Road,
Glasnevin, Dublin 9,
D09 XNV2
Highfield Healthcare,
Swords Rd,
Dublin 9,
D09 H343
Highfield Healthcare,
Swords Rd,
Dublin 9,
D09 H343

Please address your letters using ‘C/O Comfort Words’ so that we can easily distribute them among our residents – thank you.

10 Tips to Reduce COVID-19 Anxiety

At the moment, the world has found itself in an unprecedented situation. It is completely understandable to feel worried and anxious in this time of uncertainty. If you feel like it is all getting a bit much for you, here are some tips for reducing your COVID-19 anxiety.

ONE: Focus on things you can control, such as your thoughts and behaviours.

TWO: Keep the big picture in mind. Humankind will survive this.

THREE: Remember that the size of the news coverage may not equal the size of a threat.

FOUR: Let wisdom and logic guide you.

FIVE: Turn to reputable sources for your news.

SIX: Control how often you check the latest news.

SEVEN: Model peaceful behaviour for those around you.

EIGHT: Evaluate your own health behaviours and be a model for others, including children.

NINE: Feeling too isolated? Maintain digital connections with people.

TEN: Don’t let fear influence your decisions, such as hoarding supplies.

Communication with Residents During Visitor Restrictions | COVID-19

Communication with Residents

In line with guidance provided by NHI, we are currently working on setting up access for face-to-face calls through the following applications in order to facilitate communication through a screen during periods of restrictions:

  • FaceTime  (supported on Apple iPod/iPhone/iPad/Mac devices only)
  • Skype  (supported by a web version, and apps on Android and iOS smartphones and Windows and macOS computers)

Roll out of these apps will commence on Thursday 12 March 2020, with a view to implementation by the weekend. A further update will be provided once this is in full operation.

To avail of this new feature, please ring us in advance and staff on the unit will be able to schedule and discuss with you and answer any questions.

Visitor Restrictions Now in Place | COVID-19

Visitor Restrictions as Recommended by HSE and Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI)

For the protection of our residents, visiting restrictions are now in place in Highfield Healthcare.

No visitors, children or groups are allowed effective immediately. 

All visitors are asked to contact prior to attending. We urge prospective visitors to be cognisant and understanding of the measure that is required in the interest of resident and staff safety. Older people and people in nursing homes with pre-existing medical conditions are particularly vulnerable if they contract the virus. The virus presents an unprecedented situation for our services and the care provided within them. Highfield is imposing the visitor restrictions in the best interests of residents and staff. We thank people for their understanding and patience during this period of unprecedented challenges presented by Covid19. 

Highfield is monitoring the evolving situation on an ongoing basis and is in continuous contact with the Department of Health, National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), HSE, NHI and all relevant health authorities. 

COVID-19 Coronavirus Contingency Measures

2nd March 2020

At Highfield Healthcare, the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents, patients, staff, volunteers and visitors is of paramount importance to us. We are therefore preparing contingency measures against the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Highfield Healthcare has over 300 beds, 30 day hospital places, and scores of people attending our outpatient department on a daily basis.

Therefore, if over the last 14 days, you have been in any of the affected areas identified by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and feel unwell or are displaying any symptoms such as a cough, high temperature, or shortness of breath, we would ask that you please avoid visiting our services to protect against the spread of the infection.

This request applies to:

  • Families/friends visiting elderly relatives in our nursing homes
  • Service users attending outpatient appointments in our OPD
  • Service users attending our mental health day hospital
  • Visitors of inpatient service users of our Hampstead Clinic.
  • Contractors coming on-site to carry out work.

At all times, our team take every necessary precaution to best protect the health and safety of all who come through our doors.

The HSE regularly updates its list of affected areas, which can be found here. We are advising service users and visitors to check this list regularly for any changes or additions, and for more information and updates on the coronavirus, areas affected by it and what to do if you think you might have had contact with it.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

IMT Interview with Dr Leena Naughton

“Now one of the country’s leading providers of mental health services, Highfield Healthcare, will open a new day hospital later this month in the same grounds where one of Ireland’s first-ever psychiatric hospitals was established almost 200 years ago. Peter Doyle reports;

“Highfield Healthcare is highly regarded for the provision of acute mental health treatment and care for adults and older persons with acute, serious and enduring mental health disorders and complex mental health issues associated with neuropsychiatric disorders and dementia,” one of its newest appointments, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Leena Naughton, told Irish Medical Times (IMT).

“Highfield has a long-established history of providing care that is value-driven and underpinned by person-centeredness and quality,” added Dr Naughton, who joined the Highfield team last October.

Its vision to develop acute mental health services, she added, was being realised with a recent increase in the number of general adult inpatient beds and opening of a second day hospital.

“The organisation is now one of the leading providers of acute and specialist mental health services in Ireland and the only private service delivering the most innovative models of treatment and care in our Day Hospital,” continued Dr Naughton.

‘Long-established history’

Highfield’s “long-established history” can be traced to Dr John Eustace, a physician who worked at the Cork Street Fever Hospital but left his post in 1825 to set up one of Ireland’s first-ever hospitals for the mentally ill on farmland owned by his family in the Whitehall district of Dublin.

Dr Eustace was a Quaker and members of the Christian movement advocated a holistic approach when treating people who had been diagnosed with mental illness.

This philosophy, which was considered radical at the time, has remained central to Highfield Healthcare after the business was begun by Dr Eustace’s sons, John and Marcus, in the second half of the 19th Century.

As stated on Highfield’s website (www.highfieldhealthcare.ie), “the mentally ill have always been with us, but for no family is this truer than for the Eustace family”.

“While the treatment and care of mental illness is, in our day, accepted as one of the duties of a caring society, we must remember, that when John Eustace opened the doors of Hampstead Hospital in 1825, old attitudes were only beginning to change,” the Family History section of the website states.

“The mentally ill were still outcasts, still ‘lunatics’, the majority of them being treated with coercion and restraint. The State’s policy of providing asylums was only developing and it would be a long time before these became caring and therapeutic institutions.”

Caring and therapeutic institutions

Six generations later, the Eustace family runs four private healthcare services with a total of 150 beds, on the same site as the original hospital.

Almost four years ago, in November 2016; the Hampstead Clinic, which provides general adult mental health service, was expanded to include a Day Hospital service with capacity for 12 people.

Two years later, in October 2018, a 12-bed specialist rehabilitation unit (SRU) for people with severe and enduring mental illness was established. More recently, the acute general adult inpatient bed capacity was increased from 11 to 21 beds and a second day hospital opened on the campus.

Dr Naughton said it was envisaged that by 2025 “the configuration of mental health inpatient services will further divide to accommodate a higher volume of acute inpatient services by a reducing number of residents with long-stay mental health issues”.

Day hospital services will hopefully be relocated and/or developed within the community, she added.

Day hospital services

“It is envisaged that the development and recognition of Highfield Healthcare as a centre for learning with established affiliations to the various third level Institutions will be at an advanced stage and supported by state-of-the-art educational and training facilities on campus,” said Dr Naughton.

Key to Highfield‘s future plans is the new day hospital. “This will provide comprehensive psychiatric assessment, diagnosis and integrated treatment tailored to individual needs, and will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team led by a consultant psychiatrist,” explained Dr Naughton.

The range of therapies and activities on offer at the day hospital include a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), to help service users discover for themselves simple and safe wellness tools; psychoeducation, to help them understand their diagnosis, pharmacotherapy benefits and side effects and also the impact medicines have on day-to-day life.

Service users will also learn about decider skills, which can help them not only recognise their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours but also how best to monitor and manage them.

By addressing issues like distress tolerance, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness and skills for emotional regulations, explained Dr Naughton, decider skills can help control impulsive behaviours such as self-harm, avoidance, and withdrawal. The new day hospital will also carry out social work assessments; occupational therapy assessments; family work, when needed; cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) group work and one-to-one sessions, if needed; and art and music therapy; and cookery skills also.

Treatment and management of patients

“I was attracted to Highfield Healthcare’s passion towards serving mental illness and dedication to patient care,” said Dr Naughton who completed her medical school training postgraduation in psychiatry in her native India.

“My approach to treatment and management of patients is focused on individualised needs and their complete recovery along with remission of their illness leading to social reintegration and improvement in quality of life,” she added.

“This treatment philosophy will be at the heart of my multidisciplinary team within the Hampstead inpatient unit and new Day Hospital services at Highfield Healthcare.”

Comprehensive experience/cross-cultural psychiatry

Shortly after completing her medical training in India, and before she travelled to Ireland to work for the Health Service Executive (HSE) as a Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Naughton was part of the research team that carried out the largest epidemiological of Alzheimer’s disease in India.

“I gained comprehensive experience in general adult, child psychiatry, eating disorders, learning disability, addiction and forensic psychiatry through my basic and higher specialist training,” said Dr Naughton, who is fluent in four languages (English, Hindi, Marathi and Urdu). Being multilingual helps her assess patients from numerous backgrounds in their native tongue.

“My exposure to psychiatry in Ireland and India gave me valuable insight and understanding of cross-cultural psychiatry,” added Dr Naughton, who, as a senior registrar, worked as a lecturer at Trinity College Dublin as part of her training in forensic psychiatry.

“I have worked in various HSE services in General Adult Community Psychiatry, as a consultant psychiatrist which helped greatly in developing my approach to treatment, care, ways of working and leading a multidisciplinary team,” she continued.

“Community psychiatry involves day hospital; inpatient and outpatient work at various locations in the catchment area. As a consultant my focus always has been an holistic approach to achieve recovery rather than just remission of illness.”

Election manifesto

With the country on the verge of electing a new Government, the topic of health, including the provision of mental health services, has been a major talking point of the General Election 2020 campaign.

As part of its manifesto, Mental Health Reform (MHR) said Ireland’s mental health services were in a state of crisis and have “suffered from years of significant underinvestment, staffing shortages and access difficulties”.

MHR is calling for all election candidates to pledge substantial investment in Ireland’s mental health services, from 6 per cent of the overall health budget to at least 10 per cent.

The national coalition of organisations campaigning to transform mental health and well-being supports in Ireland also said that 24/7 access to crisis services across the country needs to be improved, while the Mental Health Act 2001 required reform to give adequate protection to people’s rights when they are in hospital for mental health treatment.

Dr Naughton also agreed that the State’s funding of mental health services at present was insufficient. “This is accepted by all stakeholders involved,” she said.

Access to mental health services was becoming more difficult, she continued, because “of unending waiting lists for specialist community care”.

“This causes anguish for those seeking treatment and a worsening of symptoms by the time they finally access our services, meaning increasing chronicity of the illness, their treatment is prolonged, with a poorer prognosis, and the knock-on effect for their caring families and friends,” added Dr Naughton. This, she said, will also impact negatively on waiting-list sizes for other service users trying to access the service because it was taking longer to stabilise and discharge patients.

“Early intervention shortens treatment time and thus opens up more opportunities for new patients,” she explained.

Staffing crisis

She also said the country’s politicians must address the use of recruitment embargoes by the HSE. Staffing levels were at “crisis point”, she said, because under-resourced services were unattractive to new entrants.

The existing pool of mental health professionals was being “cannibalised” by the system, she said, because staff were moving “from one sector to another to plug a hole, creating the same problem in the sector they have just left and the net result is no improvement in staffing levels.

“Recruitment of new professionals from outside the existing base must be a priority and making these opportunities attractive for applicants,” she said.

For referrals please contact referrals@highfieldhealthcare.ie or directly through Clanwilliam GP practice management software.” IMT

T2C Virtual Dementia Tour

Over the first two weeks in February, Highfield Healthcare were delighted to welcome Training 2 Care UK Ltd to provide an incredible training experience for our staff, volunteers and families.

The Virtual Dementia Tour is a scientifically and medically proven method of giving a person with a healthy brain the chance to experience what dementia might be like. Each session allows participants to enter the world of the person and understand which simple changes need to be made to their practice and environment to really improve lives of people with dementia.

Invented 25 years ago in America by Professor PK Beville and owned by Second Wind Dreams, Training 2 CARE are UK partners providing training across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.  The Virtual Dementia Tour has now been proven during research produced by Ulster University to change practice within 95% of participants, improve knowledge in 97% of participants and improve outcomes for 100% of clients.


Visitor Restrictions

****As per recent government guidelines, please do not travel into Highfield Healthcare if you are coming directly from countries NOT on the government's travel green list (and have not completed the mandatory restriction of movements for a 14 day period) as unfortunately you will not be allowed entry into the building.****


At Highfield Healthcare, the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents, patients, staff, volunteers and visitors is of paramount importance to us.  In line with government guidelines on easing visitor restrictions to residential care facilities, we are regularly updating our plans for all services and will keep families updated with any details regarding visiting your loved ones.

Please note we are unable to accommodate any unplanned visits.

For any general queries, please contact us on 01 8374444.

Communication with Residents

In line with guidance provided by NHI, we have set up access for face-to-face calls in order to facilitate communication through a screen during periods of restrictions.

Click here for more information.