North Kerry’s Day Care Service for people living with dementia is on the cusp of a major new chapter as it prepares to make the move to a purpose-built facility on the grounds of Listowel Hospital.
Delivered at a cost of €1 million, the new facility is poised to transform the lives of so many of the service’s clients inside its bright rooms and spaces, in the realisation of a long-held vision of the local Ard Chúram committee.
Not only has the group established the now-vital Ard Chúram Day Care Centre for the elderly in the hospital grounds in Greenville, but it is now also set to deliver this new space for the dementia service.
The service currently operates out of the Listowel Family Resource Centre on a three-day-a-week basis but will soon shift to the new building. Just as soon as the Ard Chúram gets the green light – as the group is awaiting the lifting of the stringent COVID restrictions, while putting the final details in place. Chairman of the Ard Chúram Building Sub-committee, Brendan O’Sullivan, said the charitable company is immensely satisfied at having reached such a point in the realisation of its dream.
“It will cater for the North Kerry and West Limerick area and will allow the clients and staff operating the Alzheimer’s Day Care service to move over from the Listowel Family Resource Centre and come under the umbrella of the Ard Chúram here,” Mr O’Sullivan explained.
“We are deeply satisfied to have reached this point already as it will transform the lives of people living with dementia, and their families across the region, inordinately.
“It will run on the three-day basis it had been operating at in the family centre initially, but our firm plan is for the service to expand to a five-day one as soon as possible, catering to 15 people on a daily basis,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Joined to the original Ard Chúram Day Care Centre for the Elderly by means of an external corridor, it will also allow the Ard Chúram to maximise many of its existing services for the good of the stream of clients.
“For instance, we have an excellent kitchen in the current centre, and we will be serving meals from that kitchen to clients of the new Dementia Centre, so there will be quite a degree of shared benefit as a result of the proximity.”
However, it will operate as a separate entity from an administrative point of view, under the guidance of nurse manager Gobnait O’Mahony.
“The Dementia Centre will take up approximately 3,500 sq ft on the ground floor, and at the back of the ground floor there will be an area that will be sectioned off with a lobby and lift and stairs to the upper floor, with the covered walkway from the existing centre entering into that lobby. It means anyone crossing over can go straight into that lobby without any contact with the dementia patients whatsoever. The access for the patients will be from the front of the building.
“As you come in the front door, there’s a dining area on the right, all built around an internal garden that is open to the elements. You effectively pass around this courtyard area as you move from the dining room onto a succession of activity rooms,” Mr O’Sullivan explained.
The shared nature of the now twin facility will also benefit the Ard Chúram’s existing day-care centre:
“For instance, you could move the current stroke rehabilitation unit into the multi-purpose spaces upstairs in the new building. There are many possibilities,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Mr O’Sullivan credited Tralee architect Brendan O’Connell with a dynamic response to the brief, focused at all times on the needs of its client base: “He was very good at seeing what our needs were and integrating it all within the design, and really maximising the space in such a way as to provide for the best possible experience for users.
“Everything is being delivered to improve the quality of their lives, with a bright, secure building in which they will be able to move around freely and safely, and rooms in which we can provide activities and therapies to improve cognitive function and general well-being.”
He thanked the community for its unwavering support for the centre, with the Ard Chúram looking forward to the physical return of the Ring of Kerry Cycle next year as one of its main charity beneficiaries.