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01 Dec 2021

Minister visits Offaly to view HSE health and wellbeing initiatives

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Minister Frank Feighan with local HSE personnel

Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy Frank Feighan visited a number of HSE sites in Offaly this week to see at first-hand various health partnership programmes and health and wellbeing initiatives being undertaken by the health service in the county.

Minister Feighan was met by HSE senior management and taken on a tour of the HSE Community Alcohol and Drugs (CADS) Treatment Centre in Tullamore. The Minister also was provided with presentations by Fran Byrne, Regional Manager for Addiction Services in Midlands Louth Meath CHO and by Antoinette Kinsella, Coordinator Midlands Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force on the work being carried out in the community.

HSE CADS deliver a range of services to include assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation in the community.  These services are available to both adults and U18’s concerned with their own or another person’s drug or alcohol use.   

The MRDATF is one of ten Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Forces in Ireland that were set up in 2003 to facilitate a more effective response to the drugs and alcohol problems in areas experiencing the highest levels of substance misuse and involve those directly affected by the problem in the development of an area-based drug strategy.

The Minister also met with staff from The Midlands Traveller Health Unit where Dr Doug Hamilton, Specialist in Public Health, Midlands, provided the Minister with a background to the Traveller/Roma and Other Vulnerable Groups Programme and its results. Jimmy Todd Midlands Traveller Health Unit Coordinator present gave an overview of the structure of Traveller Health Service, and Victoria Haliy, Manager of the Roma Programme, gave a presentation on the structure of Roma Programme.

Minister Feighan also visited the Offaly Traveller Men’s Shed, where Sandra McDonagh, CEO of Offaly Traveller Movement, introduced some of the facility users and discussed its activities.

Head of Primary Care at Midlands Louth Meath CHO Joseph Ruane said: “I’d like to thank the Minister for visiting our sites here in the Midlands and meeting with staff and partners to see first-hand the hard work and initiatives of staff to provide healthcare to some of the more marginalised in our community. We have some very good programmes in place here in Offaly and the Minister’s visit is recognition of the work being carried out.”

Minister Feighan said: “I would like to congratulate and thank the staff of the various programmes that in place here in Offaly to meet the differing and complex needs of many in the community. Their work and the cooperation of partners to ensure the health needs of some of the more vulnerable in society are met are incredible. Creating trust between the service user and the service provider is key and reflects that it’s a partnership. This has evidently been a cornerstone in the Midlands. ”

The Minister also had an opportunity to catch up on a number of Health promotion and improvement initiatives provided in Offaly to  improve the health and wellbeing of the general population and those populations at greatest risk of developing chronic disease. He received an update on the Offaly Social Prescribing Programme which is provided in Tullamore by Offaly Local Development Company and funded by the HSE.

Social Prescribing is a free, service for people experiencing loneliness and social isolation which helps to link you with sources of support and social activities within your community. These include physical activity; reading groups/books for health; self-help programmes such as the  Stress Control Programme; Men’s Sheds; community gardening; and arts and creativity.  The Social Prescribing Coordinator in Tullamore supports people to access interventions such as exercise classes, social groups, creative activities, volunteering opportunities, employment services and educational courses.

Fiona Murphy, Head of Health & Wellbeing at Midlands Louth Meath CHO said: “We were delighted to be able to highlight a number of  health and wellbeing initiatives to Minister Feighan. Our staff work within the HSE and with external stakeholders to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources to improve the health and wellbeing of the population.  Programmes provided directly or through partnership working include those in the areas of social prescribing, smoking cessation, healthy eating,  physical activity promotion and obesity prevention, sexual health and mental health and wellbeing programmes.”

Minister Feighan said: “Providing and referring people to a range of non-clinical community supports which can have significant benefits for their overall health and wellbeing.  It’s great to see the health promotions programmes here in Offaly and how they can benefit the health of our communities. Well done to all involved.”

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