By Keith Bourke
The Western Care Association had to close all of its day services due to the coronavirus outbreak but is adapting the way it works to meet the needs of those it helps.
The disability services provider supports people across Co Mayo, providing a range of supports such as day, residential and respite services along with community, social work and therapeutic supports. Western Care Association is one of Mayo’s biggest employers with 950 staff.
Western Care Association chief executive Tia Crowley said the service has had to adapt the way it operates in order to cope with coronavirus.
“This is not a normal situation we find ourselves in and like other organisations we have had to adapt to the ever-changing environment we find ourselves in.
“We are doing our best to keep services operating. However, we have had to close all our day services due to the risks posed to staff and service users. We have had to redeploy those staff to support other critical services. We are trying to provide the optimal level of service while observing Government guidelines but hard decisions are having to be taken,” said Ms Crowley.
The association has put a raft of measures in place to deal with the challenges posed by the virus.
“Some of the main challenges we face are keeping our service users and staff safe and healthy and aligned to that managing to keep our critical service adequately staffed. We have put in place contingency measures to try to manage all reasonable scenarios and we have really dedicated staff teams who will work tirelessly to continue to support those using our services,” said Ms Crowley.
“We have a planning team that meet daily to review any new information that has been provided and to update action plans on foot of information we have and anticipated demand. It is difficult to adequately plan for all eventualities but our management and staff teams have been very responsive and are problem-solving as situations arise,” she added.
Ms Crowley said they are working with service users and their families to try and ensure their needs are catered for.
“Staff are working with service users to manage their concerns and to keep their mind off the fact that their routine has been disrupted. We have provided accessible information to service users and their families about the virus and about taking precautions in an easy-read format which will hopefully help.
“I acknowledge that the closure of day services and community supports is a challenge for families and we are providing telephone support and keeping in touch with families as much as possible,” she stated.
One of the most highly regarded organisations in the county, Western Care has received invaluable support from the communities it serves.
“I think it is important to highlight the wonderful support we are receiving from the local communities in which our services are based and I think we will be able to rely on them more and more for practical help and support as the need arises. Western Care is a community-based organisation and I believe the local communities will support us through this,” said Ms Crowley.