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Drogheda Community Services Trust Collaborate with Netwell CASALA on Online Engagement Project

29 March 2021

Drogheda Community Services Trust have joined in a collaborative project with Netwell CASALA, based at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), on a new pilot project involving online engagement with older people.

As we enter our second year living with Covid-19, we continue to worry about the impact of restrictions on the social and mental wellbeing of older people. As a result many community organisations have looked to technology to maintain connections with and services for older people.

 



Drogheda Community Services Trust (DCST) has been providing community services for over 50 years. In addition to day-care services, such as meals, hairdressing and social activities, offered in the purpose-built Dermot Kierans Centre, on the north side of Drogheda, Drogheda Community Services  also provides bereavement counselling (funded by TUSLA)  mediation, FLAC and Legal Aid services as well as the Pobal-funded Senior Alert Scheme. Many local people depend on the services offered so closing up when Covid-19 arrived was not an option. Instead, the team of staff and volunteers at Drogheda Community Services, ‘pivoted’ and began to deliver meals to people in their homes, took on shopping and prescription collection and increased the provision of phone support for its own members.

DSCT recognised the potential of technology:

“It is more than just Covid,”

said Rita Lambe, Manager of services,

“if we get this right, we can reach more people, eliminate our long waiting list, and offer our learning to other groups considering remote service delivery, even after this pandemic”.

Last June, DCST began to provide some of their activities remotely, to those who could access them. Online chair exercise classes and craft classes have been available, delivered by the DSCT team. Online mindfulness and gardening classes were also offered in conjunction with LMETB. Following some early success with remote delivery, DCST now launches its new Daycare@Home pilot project, with funding from The Community Foundation RTE Comic Relief Fund and supported by LMETB and Louth County Council’s Age Friendly Office.

To make sure the development of Daycare@Home is evidence-based, NetwellCASALA at DkIT will lead research on the pilot project, guided by an Advisory Committee of service stakeholders, supported by colleagues from Dublin City University (DCU) and funded by the Irish Research Council.

“This is a timely collaborative project and we look forward to working with all stakeholders impacted by changes in community service delivery brought on by the pandemic. Together we will find solutions that will work for everyone.””

said Suzanne Smith, Living Lab manager at NetwellCASALA.

The Daycare@Home pilot project will include distribution of tablet devices and development of activities for online engagement with Centre members, keeping them actively involved with each other and with the team at Drogheda Community Services long into the future.

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