RehabCare, the social care division of Rehab Group, has scooped three awards at this year’s Irish Healthcare Centre awards.

The award ceremony, hosted by broadcaster Marty Whelan, took place in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dún Laoghaire on Friday, 26th May, recognising hundreds of health, disability and social care services and professionals from across the sector.

RehabCare Doon Residential service, based close to Tralee, faced tough competition in its category among six nominees nationwide but scooped the Residential Service of the Year award on the night.

RehabCare Doon provides residential accommodation to five people with autism, intellectual disabilities, or mental health difficulties.  The establishment of the service in 2018 resulted from decongregation, a focus of Irish healthcare policy for many years, whereby people with disabilities no longer live in institutionalised settings and are instead supported to live in more inclusive environments in the broader community.

The service also provides an independent living arrangement, in keeping with the resident’s personal needs, while ensuring there are supports and opportunities for interaction with staff and fellow residents.  Residents are enabled to be independent in their daily living, participating in cooking and baking, arts and crafts, and movie nights, and all are avid gardeners, making use of the accessible garden surrounding the building.  Residents are also encouraged to be active members of the community and are supported to visit restaurants, cafés, the library, and GAA matches.

Director of Care at Rehab Group, Gráinne Fogarty, spoke about this service’s meaningful impact on the people it supports.  “The success of this transition was founded on the principles of person-centeredness, engagement, and consultation.  By the time individual residents moved to new homes, they were not strangers within their own communities but active participants with established connections.  They learned to navigate their way through new challenges.  The residents are integral to how and why the transition has worked.  They have been supported to form strong, meaningful friendships,” added Ms Fogarty. 

Encore Productions in Dundalk took the Best Healthcare Initiative award in the Disability Service Category.  Encore is a theatre company based in RehabCare Resource Centre in Dundalk.  This centre supports adults with disabilities to live the life of their choice as independently as possible.  The production company comprises committed and professional staff and talented and creative members who have worked together to devise and perform original shows and adaptations for over 20 years.  Under the leadership of Sandy Sneddon, Encore Productions has produced 14 plays and a feature film to date, enlightening and entertaining audiences in Dundalk and across the country.  Encore Productions’ purpose is to highlight societal barriers and use their position to promote inclusion in engaging productions ranging from The Tempest, Aesop, A Midsummers Night’s Dream and Mother Courage.

Ms Fogarty said: “Challenging stigma and misconceptions of disability is a biproduct of the work of Encore Productions.  Many members of our service in RehabCare Dundalk have taken up important roles within the production company, offering skills ranging from acting to set and lighting design.  As a result of their work, there has been a real impact on the health and wellbeing of the individuals involved and signalling their position as creative leaders in the community.”

Finally, Knocklofty Rural Resource Centre in Tipperary took home the Day Care Centre of the Year award on the night.  This rural resource centre allows members to work outside, maintain the grounds, and look after the animals on site.  Knocklofty also has facilities to enable members to grow vegetables and fruit trees.  Twenty-three people access this service which provides a range of activities associated with the person-centred planning process.  Members of the service can acquire practical, horticultural, agricultural and independent living skills.  People attending Knocklofty are supported in the areas of independent living, health and wellbeing, employment, adult education and personal development.

Gráinne Fogarty concluded: “Our teams across RehabCare are thrilled to receive three prestigious awards.  This external recognition is a wonderful testament to the value of their hard work, commitment, and contribution to our shared mission.  In addition, it is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the staff. I want to say congratulations to all our nominated and winning services on the night.”

You can find all of the winners here