12 Aug 2022

WATCH: Talking Buddies success story for children in Laois and Offaly

Talking Buddies is a new initiative funded by Sláintecare to promote language development in communities in Laois and Offaly and encourage everyone to get reading aloud to young children aged 0 -5.

The HSE says Talking Buddies aims want to encourage parents and anyone in a child’s life to read books together everyday. IT says that the evidence shows that sharing a book everyday greatly improves a child’s vocabulary.

Not only will your child learn new words through books, the organisers also say it is a great opportunity for bonding. This initiative was launched on Thursday, February 25 to coincide with National Reads Day.

The Talking Buddies programme offers parents timely access to education and training resources about using books to develop language.

Maria Bracken is a Speech & Language Therapist.

"Many of the referrals for Speech & Language Therapy for children aged 0-5 are for children with delayed language development. While,  we currently run training programmes for parents of these children, we felt that if parents had accessible public health education earlier it would greatly reduce the number of referrals into our service and thereby reduce Speech and Language Therapy waiting lists.  

"With the Talking Buddies programme we have created a series of short education and training videos about how best to share books with your child. The first series of videos will include information on; the benefits of books, reading to babies, learning new words and book recommendations," she said

Laura Magahy, Executive Director Sláintecare, the programme to reform Ireland’s health services.

"We are pleased to support this work through the Sláintecare Integration Fund. Timely access for parents to these supports will help improve speech and language outcomes for children experiencing difficulties as well as reducing waiting times for the Speech and Language service," she said.

The people behind Talking Buddies say they ran a very successful book drive campaign in Laois and Offaly and collected over 550 books and they are still rolling in. They also plan to gift these books to children in communities, and also want to support families and other people in a child’s life to use books in ways that gets the most out of them.  

Talking Buddies organisers say they have made links with various community groups in need in Laois and Offaly. They add that an element of the gifting process is offering support and training to these communities about the great benefits that books offer for language development.

Katie Walsh, Speech & Language Therapist.

"As a result of COVID-19, Talking Buddies have not been able to meet with communities yet, we hope to meet with preschools, community groups and parents in Laois and Offaly  to implement our Talking Buddies Programme as soon as it is safe to do so. Talking Buddies Programme is an extension of our video material. It offers more indepth education and training about using books to develop language," she said.

You can find us on our website . Talking Buddies have recently joined Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The HSE says Sláintecare has cross-party political support, and therefore provides a unique opportunity to implement a joined up solution to make sure people can get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

The goal of Sláintecare is that health and social care services will be built around the need of the people, such that most illnesses and minor injuries can be treated in the community. People will be able to stay healthy in their homes and communities, only attending hospital when necessary. This will result in shorter hospital waiting times for those who need to attend hospital.

About the Sláintecare Integration Fund
Budget 2019 provided €20 million for the establishment of a new ring-fenced Sláintecare Integration Fund to test and scale how services can best be delivered.  

The Sláintecare Integration Fund sought submissions with a focus on prevention, community care and integration of care across all health and social care settings

Finding, supporting and scaling innovative new ways of providing care is fundamental to delivering Sláintecare. The Integration Fund looked for initiatives that support the delivery of integrated care and the shift to community care in innovative new ways, helping to reduce and prevent hospital visits. This will support us in meeting our ultimate goal of reducing waiting lists and reducing waiting times.

Applications were invited which:
• Promote the engagement and empowerment of citizens in the care of their own health
• Scale and share examples of best practice and processes for chronic disease management and care of older people
• Encourage innovations in the shift of care to the community or provide hospital avoidance measures.

A total of 477 applications were received from a wide range of organisations.  The process was very competitive with the fund being 9 times oversubscribed.  122 projects from across the country were successful.

The successful projects are in more than 100 locations right across the country. The project partners range from hospitals, hospital groups, Community Healthcare Organisations, Community and Voluntary Organisations, Universities and Primary Care Centres. Many successful projects will be delivered in partnership between hospitals and Community Healthcare Organisations, or hospitals and community organisations, highlighting the emphasis on integrated care and shifting care to the community.

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