Forum Connemara Social Care Programme
The overall aim of Forum Connemara’s work with older people is to tackle problems of loneliness and isolation by providing opportunities for social contacts, networking and to provide a flexible range of services and to meet the special needs of the target group through the provision of volunteer and professional expertise, in delivering a social care programme, in the context of partnership between voluntary and statutory bodies. The Social Care Programme is managed by Forum Connemara under the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP).
Older people in Non Gaeltacht Connemara who are experiencing loneliness and isolation, particularly those living alone.
Services provided through the social care programme include the following:
- Forum Connemara provides support to eleven resource groups with approximately 300 members. Forum Social Care CE scheme workers assist the groups with funding and planning special events such as the annual Respite Break and Arts Week which are coordinated through the groups.
Meals on wheels
- The aim of the service is to provide a nutritious meal to elderly people who are no longer able to cook for themselves. Older people are targeted for MOW on the basis of referrals from the public health nurse, social workers, home help workers and others.
- This service started as a pilot scheme in 2000 and today seven areas of North West Connemara enjoy the Meals on Wheels Service which serves 61 clients with 164 meals on a daily basis.
- The service can be about more than simply nutritious meals. Some of the elderly users of the service are so isolated that this is their only external contact. With this in mind, the worker may stay a short time to have a chat, do shopping and perhaps identify problems that the client may have. A friendship and trust develops between the older person and the worker
Carer / Companion service
- This service targets vulnerable individuals who are experiencing loneliness, it encourages independence and increases participation in community.
- This service is also offered to families of people with disability and individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Up to fifty older people are availing of this service in Non Gaeltacht Connemara, where Social Care workers visit the home and provide transport for shopping, doctors visits etc.
Community Laundry Service
- This service is currently in operation in two areas five days per week. The Forum Social Care workers run the service. The main users of the service are the elderly, carers, lone parents and students and others living in the wider community.
- Any revenue generated is used to fund the Meals On Wheels Service.
- The Carers Group offers a weekly opportunity for networking and social events for 83 registered carers in the area with a core group of 15 attending each week.
- All full time and part time carers in the area are encouraged to join the group which has also organised different types of certified training related to caring in the home.
- As a means of reducing isolation the Social Care Programme has encouraged older people in the area to install a security system in their homes.
- Smoke alarms, provided by Galway County Council, are installed by Social Care Workers.
Disability Support / Information Dissemination
- This service is run in conjunction with the Clifden CIC. This service offers information, form-filling and a follow up service to clients.
- In conjunction with The Diabetic Federation of Ireland a very successful Diabetic Support group is co-ordinated through this worker. The support group meet every two months and have held information evenings on Diet, Foot Care, Eye Care, caring for a Healthy Heart, Homeopathy and Hearing Difficulties
Essential Housing repairs
- 157 houses were repaired through the Essential Housing Repairs for the Elderly Scheme, funded by HSE and actioned through a FAS CE Scheme.
- For 2010 / 2011 FORUM, under contract with Sustainable Energy Action Ireland (SEAI) and Fás, operated a Warmer Homes Scheme, to assist those in, or at risk of fuel poverty.
- 130 houses have been completed to date under Warmer Homes Scheme.
- Work is undertaken on Health centres in conjunction with HSE west
- In 2012, essential repair work is being carried out on the homes of older people to enable them to continue to live independently in their communities.
The work of the Social Care Programme is carried out under two CE schemes and is funded by Department of Social Protection, HSE West and the Local & Community Development Programme. Scheme supervisors work closely with HSE Social Workers to assist older and vulnerable people in the community.
Positive Recognition for the Social Care Programme
NUI Galway carried out an evaluation of the FORUM Social Care Programme in 2005 which highlighted the positive impact the services had on the clients and the community.
In 2010 / 2011, the Irish centre for Social Gerontology included the services of the SCP in Ballinakill Parish in a cross border study published in 2011.