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health is wealth

'When I came in here I couldn't walk. Now I've just been told I can go home'

The Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing was launched today by Michael D Higgins at St James’s Hospital, Dublin.

AFTER JOHN WAS admitted to hospital after having a stroke, he was really struggling with mobility.

pjimage Sean Murray / Sean Murray / /

He was transferred to the new Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, around four weeks ago. He received extensive care, including physiotherapy. This week, he’ll get to go home in time for Christmas.

When visited MISA ahead of its launch today, John was bowling on the Wii to continue improving his mobility. He said:

They’re great in here. Absolutely excellent. Three weeks ago, I could barely move. They gave me that confidence to start walking again.

“This morning, I was told I could go home on Friday. I was delighted.”

Successful Ageing

So what is exactly is Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing?

Its director, Professor Rose Anne Kenny told “It is the largest clinical research facility on the Irish and British isles. It is the only centre of excellence for ageing in Ireland and one of the largest in Europe. It’s dedicated to high quality clinical care.”

The centre has been over 30-years in the making, as the idea had been mooted as far back as 1983. The launch of the hospital today is the culmination of that work.

The 7-floor institute on the grounds of St James’s Hospital in Dublin will have 116 in-patient beds, and will be able to cater for 30,000 outpatients and day cases annually.

It has received funding to the tune of €50 million, with the HSE, the Department of Health, St James’s Hospital and Atlantic Philantropies providing the necessary funds.


It operates in four main areas.

The facility offers clinical care to older persons. It conducts research and development into new ways to care for people and puts them into practice on site.

It provides specialist training for healthcare professionals, including the work of the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre. It also encourages older people to express themselves creatively, through art, music, literature etc.

In terms of its care facilities, it aims to offer older people whatever healthcare service they may need.

Its occupation therapy section, for example, provides services for people to ensure they have all the skills they need to return home and function properly. This ranges from using kitchen appliances, and toilets, to getting behind the wheel of a car.

IMG_2996 Sean Murray / Sean Murray / /

Kenny explained: “It’s fully equipped. We run blackout clinics, Parkinson’s clinics, memory clinics, stroke clinics, mood health clinics, bone health clinics etc.

When an individual comes, we try and provide whatever they need within those sub-specialties at the one visit. People aren’t compelled to come back and forth to hospital frequently.

A different kind of care

The facility encourages patients to get better and be able to function when they return home by providing care in a variety of ways.

From nursing staff and doctors, to physiotherapists and psychiatrists, patients treated at MISA will get the help they need in one place.

Kenny said: “It’s all about pulling together all healthcare skillsets, from professionals who have anything to do with ageing under one roof and getting more interaction and engagement between those specialty skills to make someone’s journey and outcome better.”

Every detail has been catered for in order to make the facility accessible for people, no matter what condition they have. Even the signs on the stairs and by the lifts were designed with patient care in mind.

As well as listing each section in English and Irish, each sign also has a visual symbol that could potentially aid a dementia patient, or someone whose vision has been affected by events such as a stroke.

IMG_3007 Sean Murray / Sean Murray / /


The centre was formally launched today by President Michael D. Higgins. In his address he praised MISA for its scope and spoke of the challenges and opportunities of ensuring that elderly citizens enjoy active and fulfilled lives.

He said: “In a world where we can expect to see more and more people leading significantly longer lives, innovative and creative thought around the ageing process will become increasingly important.

I know that here, at the Institute, you embrace such innovation, marrying new and sophisticated technology with recent and advanced research in order to enable elderly citizens to continue to live lives of fulfilment and possibility.

Read: Plans for new cancer institute at St James’ Hospital

Read: Children’s hospital costs like a ‘runaway train’ as they rocket to €1bn

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