Members in attendance at the opening of the new ASI Daycare Centre on Friday last

'First of its kind' Alzheimer Daycare Centre opens in Multy

Tánaiste Micheál Martin was in Multyfarnham to open the new Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) Daycare Centre in the Franciscan Friary , the first of its kind, on Friday last. It will host a social club, dementia café and career supports, as well as specialised care and support for individuals, their families and carers.

“Centres such as this really give opportunities for those with dementia and their families,” said Mr Martin. “Dementia is a growing, significant issue. On average every day in Ireland, about 30 people are diagnosed, which has a direct effect on each individual and each family,” he said.

“We know that daycare is a vital support and this new centre is the first of its kind in the Westmeath Longford area and the service will expand in the years ahead.

“It will provide a safe, welcoming environment for activities and programmes that promote cognitive stimulation, social engagement and fiscal activity, and will act as a hub for a other supports including a social group, dementia cafe, and career supports.”

The tánaiste said government had funded nine memory assessment and support services through new regional specialist memory clinics, and added one of those will be located in Mullingar in the near future.

“Establishing these essential services will help ensure timely access to diagnosis, and post diagnostic support and a reduction in waiting times,” said Mr Martin. “Early diagnosis, we know now, will be key in the treatment of dementia in advances in disease modifying therapies. Brain health interventions will also be key to slow progression of the illness and quality of life,” he said.

“In addition, we’ve provided funding since 2021 for in-home dementia daycare for people who could not attend daycare services, so we’re conscious of the need to strengthen homecare services. And also given the high prevalence of dementia in people with special needs, the government have funded an intellectual disability memory disability service in Tallaght University Hospital.”

Addressing a large crowd in the Franciscan Friary in Multyfarnham was Siobhan O'Connor, head of operations at the ASI, with Tánaiste Micheál Martin, Eugene McCague, CEO ASI, Donal Fitzsimons, head of Older People Services in the HSE CH08, Dep Robert Troy and Senator Paul Daly.

Summing up, the tánaiste said: “One of the positive impacts of social and economic growth is that we are enjoying longer lifespans, but ageing populations can create challenges. The message from government is that this is achievable and we can grow the services, have more daycare service, more homecare supports and more specialised supports, and we will invest to help ease the situation for many families.”

He concluded by thanking Donal Fitzsimons of the HSE, the ASI, the Franciscan Order, Fr Kieran Cronin and Deputy Robert Troy, who he said “through his connections and channels in the Franciscan Order”, paved the way for the facility to be opened.

ASI head of operations, Siobhan O’Connor, said it was a chance meeting last year that put Multyfarnham on the map as a potential daycare centre. “When I came up the drive and saw the Friary and saw the other community organisations on its fringes, I felt like the location would be amazing and after viewing inside there was no doubt in my mind it would work,” she said.

Donal Fitzsimons, head of Older People Services in the HSE CH08, gave his support to the plan. “We had a few hiccups along the way, but thanks to Deputy Troy we overcame them and we are here today,” she said, adding thanks to Fr Ciaran Cronin and the Franciscan Order for ensuring it all came to fruition.

Ms O’Connor thanked members of her own team in making the day happening, “Chris, Donal, Niamh, Claire, and Leanne our new manager”, and acknowledged Rita Dunne, ASI homecare coordinator, who has been delivering homecare along with her teams across Westmeath and Longford for 23 years.

“The Alzheimer Society looks forward to engaging with the community, sharing our training, educating through our schools programmes, supporting memories and building the friends of ASI across the region,” she said.

“I have no doubt that this centre will be a fantastic support to everyone and it is a real example of how a collaborative approach across many agencies can deliver so much for so many.”

Mr Fitzsimons added that the opening of the day services in Multyfarnham “is very timely”.

“The number of people living with dementia continues to rise. There are 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland and this figure is expected to rise to over 150,000 by 2045.

“It is therefore essential that the HSE continue to plan and develop services for people living with dementia in partnership with all stakeholders,” he said.

The daycare centre will provide crucial supports and services for people living with dementia across Westmeath and Longford.”