I’m absolutely thrilled to hear about this seniors’ project, thrilled to hear it’s won top prize in the HSE Health Service Excellence Awards and very excited to hear that it could soon become available nationwide… hurry up, #Dad (92) is waiting!
Over 300 projects from all over the country entered the 2017 Health Service Excellence Awards, which are open to all staff working in the publicly funded health system. 11 innovative projects got through to the final shortlist after a rigorous selection process. These projects highlight how so many HSE staff are working to deliver better services with easier access and higher quality care for patients.
The Overall Award went to ‘Innovative Support Co-ordination for Older Persons’. This is a joint project between Alone and the HSE which aims to keep older people living well at home for as long as possible. By co-ordinating and organising services for older people who might need some extra support to continue living at home or some practical help to return home from hospital, the two agencies have, to date, supported 489 older people in Dublin North city and county.
This project was piloted in CHO Dublin North City & County where four ALONE support co-ordinators were funded by the HSE. Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, explains: “to avoid duplication of services, ALONE works in partnership with other organisation to ensure the best use of limited resources.”
Since the programme began in January, 489 older people have been referred to the service. Older people can be referred to the service through their GP, public health nurse, or self-refer. Support coordinators help older people by assessing their needs. Many organisations – voluntary, local government and the health service – provide services for older people. Knowing what is available, where to go and how to access these services can be very confusing and frustrating.
“The people who are referred to us have a variety of needs. The type of support people might need could be anything from repairs or adaptions to their house, help with applying for grants, setting up a befriending service if they are lonely or isolated. The list goes on.” Corrinne Hasson (ALONE Support Coordinator).
Margaret Browne is someone who benefits from the program and has a befriending volunteer coming weekly to her home to keep her company; “I really enjoy her company. My family don’t visit me often, so I look forward to seeing her every week. I wish she could come more often.”
Trained volunteers provide support to older people by providing services such as a befriending and events service; informing them of their benefits and entitlements; helping with access to primary care services; assisting with applications/grants/etc; and end of life planning and budgeting.
The programme intends to create a cost effective, scalable, and transferable model by working with all services in the area. The project aims to:
· reduce hospital admission and support older people being discharged to return home
· avoid nursing home admissions, for older people with lower support needs
· identify factors preventing an older person from living well at home and identify the practical, social resources and supports addressing these factors
“The implementation of the Support Co-ordination Project in Dublin North City and County with the HSE and ALONE has facilitated the supporting almost 500 vulnerable older people in these communities across all areas of their lives where they needed assistance. It would be the aim that we could bring this service nationwide by the end of 2019”, says Samantha Rayner, HSE Older Person Specialist, National Social care.
The Excellence Awards enable the HSE to identify new and creative service developments that can be shared and implemented, as appropriate, in different parts of our health system. The Programme for Health Service Improvement is now planning to work with a number of the project teams to support the innovative work they do.
Speaking about the importance of the awards, Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE, said: “The Health Service Excellence Awards are designed to identify and recognise the real value we place on excellence and innovation across all of our health service.”
HSE National Director of Human Resources, Rosarii Mannion, said: “It is our ambition for staff to have a strong sense of connection to our service, take personal responsibility for achieving better outcomes and support their team colleagues to deliver results. The commitment of staff throughout the public health service contributes in a very significant way to the quality and satisfaction levels acknowledged by the people who use our services.”
Full details of the shortlisted projects can be found at: www.hse.ie/excellenceawards.
Yesterday I was messaging with a community nurse, an occupational therapist, and hiring a professional carer. These are support services which will help me to help my lovely #Dad (92). A few months ago, I didn’t know they existed.
As I headed into work as a journalist with Newstalk Network News, I was still trying to understand how I could be so ignorant about what’s available to a man of dad’s age. Some of these services are free, some I have to pay for, but the fact that they’re there at all will make both dad’s journey, and mine, so much happier. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to care for dad. I would hate the pleasure and fun of our love and friendship to be eaten away by stress and difficulty.
Knowing that I have started building a new, safe, environment for dad feels like a pressure jet being released. The air physically escapes from my lungs in a rush and I feel my shoulders drop; an easing of tension that’s been building for months. For the first time I begin to realise how hugely stressed I have become.
Later today I’m meant to be flying to Copenhagen for a two day mini-break and to wild swim in the city’s freezing canals. (It’s a thing). But the trip’s been cancelled since Friday, when dad complained about a volcano in the garden; and I realised I couldn’t leave him alone any more.
I’ve learned that the sudden realisation of being a carer can leave you scrambling for answers.
Leaving the house and turning the car into the evening rush hour, I again found myself wondering about how quickly my world has changed. How could I find myself so far behind the game; failing to realise dad’s changing needs until he fell and hurt himself earlier this year?
How did I accept the brush-offs about unavailability, 2yr waiting lists for Occupational Therapy and the casual dismissals of my growing concerns?
Suddenly I realise I’m angry.
Age is not a disease and age is not an excuse for lack of respect or care. Dad’s in great health and can continue to happily live at home with me; with just a little extra support.
My dad’s dad received a 1916 medal for services rendered during the foundation of the state. His son (my dad) helped build our country, he worked all his life and paid all his taxes. He ran in cross country races, he was a sprinter, he won medals for dancing while working in Belfast during the troubles, and he cycled from his farm in Cavan to Croke Park for a match (and Cavan wasn’t even playing!). My dad has an expensive love for silk ties and Louis Copeland suits, and his favourite food is a 30oz steak! He is a person, an individual, a charming, funny, sensitive gentleman. He deserves a proper and dignified quality of life.
Driving towards Dublin city centre, I also wonder whether my experience is unique? I’m a working journalist who has spent the last 30 years asking questions. If I run into a brick wall while trying to get answers, surely I’m not the only one finding the going tough?
With that thought buzzing between my ears, I arrived into work to find the latest TILDA report on ageing in Ireland, sitting on my desk. Incredible timing. But my eyes widened and my jaw dropped as I read it’s heartbreaking findings. It’s being published today and guess what?
#Dad (92) and I are not alone.
Read on >>>
SHOCKING REPORT ON GROWING OLD IN IRELAND
42 per cent of all care provided in ‘last year of life’ in Ireland is provided informally by either friends or family.
A significant number of elderly people are NOT accessing support and services which are available to them. Many don’t know what’s on offer; others don’t know how to go about getting it.
People can enjoy a better quality of life in their final months if treatable conditions are screened and tended to accordingly; this includes pain relief and help with depression.
These are some of the findings of the latest TIDLA report published today. The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing is a large-scale, nationally representative survey on ageing in Ireland.
8,500 people over the age of 50 initially took part in Tilda, and its latest findings are based on interviews with the family members and friends of 375 participants who have died since the study began.
Check out radio news bulletins to hear more (Tues 12/12) with report author Prof Charles Normand of Trinity College Dublin, and reaction from Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement at Family Carers Ireland.
Or read the full report at www.tilda.ie.
I’m very happy to say I’m now a member of three new groups, which are offering me support & advice about how best to keep an eye on my lovely #Dad (92).
This is in addition to – and as a result of – the invaluable information that I got this year from the Health Care Assistants and Carers’ page on Facebook – who were there when I really didn’t know where to turn.
With their help, I now have a Community Nurse and Occupational Therapist visiting dad – which was eventually organised through my GP and local healthcare centre, once I knew what to ask for.
I also have a Lifeline24hr monitored alarm bracelet that dad can use to call for help at the press of a button. https://www.lifeline24.ie
Social fun, parties and outings have always been on offer through the wonderful Sally and Marie in our local St.Peregrine’s senior citizens’ network – and dad and I are both looking forward to attending the Christmas Party next week!
My three latest finds are:
https://homecaredirect.ie – this is a technical online platform which allows me to hire a Garda-vetted, qualified, professional carer, who charges by the hour/visit.
https://familycarers.ie – which is a support network for carers all around the country.
And the Carefolk Family – a brand new FREE web and mobile application that is currently being launched to connect carers with a peer support network.
I’m popping this all down here in case it helps anyone else that suddenly realises they need to start reaching out for a bit of help.