The Irish Wheelchair Association in Belmullet is delighted to have finally got the go-ahead to reopen services recently.
The staff have worked tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 crisis to ensure their members were okay and had the supports they needed available to them.
The service has remained open over the past number of months but changed from a day service to an outreach service. This included visiting nearly 60 members once a week with a care package as well as phoning them every day, delivering shopping and prescriptions when needed and providing transport to appointments. They also provided external support to anyone who needed it.
The service also included working closely with the members of the new School Leavers' Service which opened in September 2019. The school leavers' programme aims to support young adults with disabilities to discover new skills, gain confidence and become more independent.
The School Leavers' Service changed dramatically during the crisis and supports were mainly provided through a daily zoom call between the group as well as home visits. As restrictions lifted, they began to meet as a group and do some outdoor activities such as Boccia.
Having worked on policies and procedures in line with HSE guidelines, the IWA stated: "Group members are overjoyed to be returning to the centre on Monday September 10. We are confident we have a safe place to bring our service users, some of whom have been in lockdown since March. We plan to run a five-day service instead of a three-day service, splitting the day into two services, morning and afternoon. There will be no more than eight service-users in the building at one time to ensure social distancing.
"Staff and members are excited and delighted to be getting back to some sort of service after a long lockdown for our members, but supports were always there from the staff over the phone or with house visits."
Service Coordinator Rosaleen Lally added: “The heart of this beautiful building was always its members, and it’s been a very lonely place over the past three months without the sound of laughter and songs.
"We have met the challenges of Covid and adjusted our service to meet the needs of our service users in lockdown, but now our members want to get back to the day service and we are confident that we have every precaution in place to make that possible. It will not be as it was before, we will have smaller groups over a longer week and transport is limited but we will endeavour to do our best to make sure our service users get the very best experience while ensuring there safety at all times”