Pat McLoughlin cuts the ribbon to open the Longford Alzheimer Society office (photo Declan Gilmore)
The official opening of the new Longford branch office of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) took place on Longford's Earl Street last Wednesday.
he charity has moved to the new address after a number of years at Fee Court (behind Church Street).
It was an auspicious day for Breda Dunne, the branch co-ordinator for care, and Josie Canning, chairperson of the Longford Alzheimer Society branch, and a tireless campaigner for the charity down through the years.
The charity's large network of local volunteers turned out in great numbers for the event as did local politicians and there to perform the opening was the Society's CEO, Pat McLoughlin. Indeed it was a memorable day for Pat on a personal level, as he was returning to the town after having attended at St Mel's College back in the 1970s.
A native of Keadue in Co Roscommon, Pat had been a boarder at the College and classmates included Eugene O'Brien of the local accountancy firm, O'Brien & Co.
On his return to the town, he was greeted at the College by President and principal, Declan Rowley, and was also taken on a tour of the refurbished Cathedral.
He told the Leader: "It was great to be back and see the strides that the College has made whilst the visit to the Cathedral was inspiring."
He was presented with a copy of the wonderful Denis Glennon edited book of photos to mark the College's centenary and entitled 'Selected Memories.'
The Longford Branch was founded in 1994 to work for and on behalf of people with dementia and their carers to ensure they have the necessary supports and services to enable them to maximise quality of life, respecting the needs, rights and dignity of the individual.
The busy Longford Branch currently provides dementia-specific care within the Longford / Westmeath area and is dedicated to the principals of personhood, consultation with carers, innovation through research and development and partnership with local communities, state and voluntary agencies.
Longford Branch Co-ordinator of Care, Breda Dunne, explained some of the local branch's workload said: “We see many people here in our office, the majority of who are family members, husbands, wives, sons, daughters or individuals themselves who may have noticed a change in themselves or are worrying about certain symptoms they have noticed such as memory loss."
At the moment the Society has five home care workers locally who go into people’s homes and offer respite to individuals who have dementia and this allows the family member to travel into town to get their hair done or do their shopping whilst their relatives are looked after. Added Breda Dunne: “We also have a community employment scheme under the umbrella of Longford Special Needs Carers Ltd and supervised by Attracta Smyth. There are currently eight home support staff providing specialised care on this scheme to those who have dementia."
Also at the opening were the Society's Head of Operations, Miriam Enwright and Operations Manager for the North West, Mary Callanan, and they would have heard the CEO call on the State to provide increased funding for the services being provided in Co Longford and nationwide. He praised the team in place locally and also the many volunteers who keep the organisation moving forward but said that they could do much more if the government was prepared to provide the funding.
A total of 55,000 people in Ireland suffer from the disease, including about 500 in Longford and 900 in Westmeath. Among the services that are being provided from the Longford office are home-care, a day centre and a support group. Currently the Society receives approximately 60% of the funding to run the local service from the HSE, but the Society's chief executive, Pat McLoughlin, says more state support is required.
At the official opening last week Cllr Micheal Carrigy announced that he would be submitting a notice of motion to the next council meeting, seeking support from the HSE to establish a day-care centre for the Longford-Westmeath area.
For details on the Society's Saturday day-care centre (10am to 4pm Saturdays) operating out of St Joseph's hospital contact Jackie Egan on 086 6078584 and for details on the Society's home care service contact Breda Dunne on 043 3347221 / 043 3348 402 / 086 3802 183.
The local group also operates a highly regarded support group for families affected by Alzheimer's and they usually meet the last Tuesday of each month from eight to 10pm and for more details on the group contact Josie Canning on 043 3341354.