THE Alzheimer Society’s respite centre at Watermans Lodge is Ballina was described by President Higgins as a “welcoming and homely place for the people who avail of its services”.
The President, who is society’s patron, officially opened the day care and respite facility last Wednesday during his visit to North Tipperary.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit the Watermans Lodge Day Care and Respite Centre, to see its great facilities; meet its caring staff; and have an opportunity to talk to one of our fellow citizens who is able to benefit from what is a home from home.
“I understand that Watermans Lodge was originally built as a home. This is a very apt resonance as the staff and volunteers who work here try very hard to make it a welcoming and homely place for the people who avail of its services. The families involved must be very reassured that their loved one is only leaving home to visit another one where they will be treated with great dignity, friendship and compassion,.
“The driving force behind the establishment of the centre was Lillian Sullivan, one of the founding members of the Limerick Branch in 1997. I commend Lillian for her vision and commitment. Indeed, I congratulate all concerned on what has been achieved – particularly the members, staff and volunteers of the Society who every day choose to be agents of transformation – to be the arrow and not the target - so that life is made a little bit easier for people who suffer from dementia and their families,” he said.
The President said that the day was a day of “great pride and achievement for all those who have worked so hard to create this wonderfulcentre. As Patron of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, I am very aware of its remarkable work. The more I see of its work, the more I am impressed by the patient and determined response to the cruel affliction of dementia, which if not properly addressed and supported, has the capacity to rob people of their dignity and their joy in life.”
He said that he role played by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland in ensuring that dementia did not become such a life in the shadows was of critical importance.
“The work that you do with dementia sufferers and their families is vitally important in maintaining a sense of hope, dignity and solidarity. What is extraordinary is that all of this has been achieved in a comparatively short period. Your society is still a young organisation – founded 30 years ago by a small group of people who were caring for a family member with Alzheimers. Today, the society comprises over 2,500 members, 300 volunteers and over 900 full and part-time staff with six regional offices and a network of branches around the country,” he said.
Seven years after the society was formed, the Limerick Branch was established and its first committee had only seven members. Yet it was instrumental in the establishment of three day care centres and the day care / respite centre we are opening today in Ballina / Killaloe, as well as encouraging the establishment of branches in Adare and Nenagh. This is more evidence of the transformational power of people coming together determined to collectively work in the interests of those who do not have the capacity to help themselves, he said.
Waterman’s Lodge has been open for 14 months and just recently expanded its respite care to a 24/7 service. The objective of the centre is to provide dementia-specific, person-centred care to people with dementia and their carers in the community.
At full capacity, it will accommodate up to 2,000 day care places and 4,000 respite stays per year while at the same time providing carers and families the opportunity to have a much needed break. The final result is a building which gives people the freedom to move around while providing cues and prompts which enable them to know where they are at all times.