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Executive Committee visit Louth - Ireland's First Age Friendly County

15 Aug 12



Delegation included Kevin Molloy, Florrie Grey, Betty Breen, Mary Hegarty, Michael Power, Winnie Connolly, Nora Tyrrell, Jim, Sean Kinsella and our driver, Sean.

We had a break tea/coffee/scone in the Avoca Handweavers. We had a beautiful lunch outside Dundalk in The Sportsmans Inn and arrived at Northern Haven Complex around 2.00 pm. We were met by Andrew who showed us around the new apartments. A swipe card opens the doors, puts on the lights, etc. Roller blinds can be lowered and raised, sink unit and cooking hob can be lowered to suit the individual. If it is too hot in the room, the window can be opened and the heat goes off and if it rains, the window automatically closes. Each unit had a new flat screen TV and computer. There are nearly 100 sensors in each unit to control heat, light and water spillage etc. The extra cost to provide these was €20,000 and in answer to a question, Andrew said the challenge was to bring this cost down to €1,000.

We were brought all around the apartments to the outside where they had little gardens and some at waist level. They were all well secured and protected. The apartments are heated on wood pulp chips and also by gas.

We then visited another section of the complex called The Parlour where the men’s group were meeting and we were told that 2 mens group meet each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The co-ordinator of this service outlined what takes place at each session. E.g. tea, chat and they usually have a visiting speaker to speak on a topic. He also spoke about how they contacted every older person in Dundalk living alone and how they have 40 volunteers trained and vetted who visit and contact each of those living on their own. They also have a telephone project where each week every person is contacted to see if they are okay. This gives great comfort to their carers and relatives to know that people are being monitored.

At the end of this visit Andrew said to was a pity that we didn’t go first to the College of Technology. He then handed us over to Mary Deery who is the driving force behind the whole project of County Louth as an Age Friendly County.

The whole complex area was an old railway engineering yard which has been renovated. The new apartments and community care centre, swimming pool and County Council offices are all within the complex. There is also very good car parking facilities.

Mary brought us into the County Council offices to a waiting room and she gave us tea and coffee and biscuits. In her presentation, Mary outlined the work that they have done to make Louth an age friendly county. She says older people are at the heart of the strategy and consultation with older people and organisations working with them was vital and essential. The older people really owned the project and it was their views that were fed in through the Older People’s Forum and they have the support of the County Manager and other stake holders like the Gardai and Health Board and the College of Technology etc. They try to use the imagination of all these people and to use existing resources to bring to fruition what they are enjoying at the moment. She also had great praise for the work that was being done in Moore Hall, a nursing home in Ardee. They look at:-

• Positive ageing;
• Supports for those living at home;
• Supports for nursing home care;
• Other care supports;
• Home improvement grants;
• Transport and mobility;
• Safety and protection; and
• Age friendly business.

At the end of her talk, Sean thanked Mary for sharing the journey that they had made and for making it so worthwhile to come up from Wexford to hear at first hand the marvellous things that had been accomplished and for the energy and enthusiasm she puts into everything. We thanked her for her time and hospitality.

Overall I would have to say it was a wonderful day and two things that stuck out for me were the involvement of older people being consulted at every level and at all stages of the development and the second thing was the involvement of volunteers, both the number of them and the enthusiasm of them.

Finally, I would like to add that the day was also memorable because we had with us a man of great knowledge and wisdom, gained no doubt from his former occupation as a postmen. He told us he had served his time in Dundalk in the 1950s so he was able to give us ver batim the history of the buildings and various streets that we moved through. He was also very witty and wonderful on his way up he entertained us with a beautiful discourse on every land mark that we passed on the way up including going over the Boyne and a famous battle that took place there. He pointed out to us the place where St Bridget otherwise known as (Mary of the Gael) was born, Faughart near Dundalk. So all in all, a wonderful tribute to Kevin for looking after us and entertaining us and keeping us in order and that we didn’t faint on the way for want of refreshments. Our thanks to all the members of the delegation for their company particularly to Betty as she was so keen to go to the supermarket to buy soap powder and toilet rolls etc. as there were so may bargains!

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Co Wexford Age Equality Network
c/o Wexford Local Development
Mill Park Road
Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford