The Irish Wheelchair Association’s frontline workers are delivering vital services to people with physical disabilities in Longford throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Martin Tarmey of the IWA explained: “This is a very worrying time for people who use our services and are dependent on our assistance to allow them to remain living safely in their own homes. Many of them are aware that due to their disability they are extremely vulnerable to Covid-19.”
In response to the Covid 19 pandemic, the IWA has adjusted their model of service from a community centre based approach to that of outreach.
This reconfiguration happened in a matter of days and is getting very positive feedback from their service users.
The outreach model has been devised to ensure that vulnerable adults with disabilities are catered for during the social distancing and lockdown phase of the pandemic.
IWA staff are continuing to support their county Longford service users through various initiatives, including but not limited to: daily phone calls, text messages, home visits to deliver groceries, collection of prescription medications, delivering of over 40 activity packs, leaflets, programme materials every week to service users, supported by LWETB.
Mr Tarmey outlined that many service users are socially isolated since they had to close their three day centre in Kenagh due to Covid-19.
He added, “We are developing an online physical and mental wellness package, so people can access low-impact exercise classes and mindfulness tools to help people stay well physically and mentally as the crisis takes hold. The feedback from our services users has been positive and reassuring which is what is most important.”
In partnership with the HSE and the County Councils, IWA centres are now acting as hubs for rural and isolated people who may be vulnerable.
Once these people have been identified by other community groups, IWA is making contact and ensuring that their needs are being met.
IWA buses and drivers are assisting and providing transport to HSE nurses for Covid-19 testing and delivery of PPE in rural and isolated locations and for vulnerable people who may not be able to attend a test centre.
Commenting on this initiative, Mr Tarmey said it ‘is a significant undertaking and IWA’s staff has been steadfast in volunteering to take part’.
He continued, “Members of our community outreach and assisted living teams are among the many heroic frontline healthcare staff that is courageously committed to reaching the most vulnerable during this very difficult time.
“Our assisted living workers are visiting people’s homes, helping them to live independently and to carry out vital everyday tasks such as personal care, cooking and household chores.”
Appeal for support
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, IWA has been forced to postpone its nationwide fundraising activities and close its network of charity shops.
Like many organisations and businesses it has regrettably had to lay off valued staff members temporarily, who have contributed greatly to building its services to where they are today.
“Each year IWA needs to raise €2 million over and above our HSE funding to keep our vital services running,” said Mr Tarmey.
“We are aware that it is a difficult time for everyone and we’re asking people to make a donation to support our frontline workers, if they can afford to." Contact Longford IWA 043-33-22992 for details.
The IWA recommends that people only access Covid-19 information from reliable sources including the HSE www.hse.ie and the Department of Health.
The IWA helpline is 01 818 6485 or email email@example.com.
Mr Tarmey concluded, “We continue to be here to support all of our members and service users throughout this difficult time.”