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RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan Officially Opens RehabCare’s Children’s Respite Service in Navan

30/10/2012 RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan Officially Opens RehabCare’s Children’s Respite Service in Navan

In partnership with the Health Service Executive (HSE), The Meadows Children’s Respite Service provides a residential and day respite service for children with intellectual, physical or sensory disabilities as well as those on the Autistic Spectrum, between the ages of six to 18 years. The service was initially opened in 2007 at a temporary location and in 2010 moved to its new purpose-built premises. Capital funding for the project was provided by the HSE, with additional funding allocated by RehabCare through local and national fundraising activities.

The Meadows follows the daily routine of any family. For many children it is regarded as a ‘sleep-over club’ where they come to meet their friends in a safe environment that meets their needs. The service also provides a much-needed break for parents allowing them pursue other activities, spend time with family members or, in many cases, simply get a full night’s sleep.

The new facility, which is all on one level, is designed to meet the needs of all children with disabilities with adapted features such as push button doors, movable beds and wide corridors to facilitate wheelchair users. The centre has five bedrooms, a TV room, a playroom and a specially-designed Snoozelen Room which provides sensory intervention therapy using colour, light and sound. A sensory garden for the children is also being developed in consultation with the HSE’s Occupational Therapy department.

Speaking at the official opening, RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan said, 'The Meadows is a unique place and it is my honour and privilege to be here today to officially this beautiful house. This is a home away from home for children with disabilites who deserve it more than anything. The Meadows is the type of place that defines us as a society. It's what we want Ireland to reflect.'

Margaret Gillard, Director of RehabCare said, ‘It is my pleasure to be here at The Meadows today and to meet the children, families and staff who make this service a second home. RehabCare fulfils a real service need for these families who need some time off to recharge their batteries. The tailored facilities allow a continuation of the care provided in their own homes. The children also get to make some wonderful friends, try out some new activities and have a mini-holiday. The smiles on their faces tell it all. The sense of community goes far outside The Meadows and the work that RehabCare does in Meath would not be possible without the magnificent help and support of all our volunteers and fundraisers down through the years.’

Louise Tinne, Residential Services Manager explained how the service works, ‘We currently have 72 children accessing the service on a monthly basis each child receiving two nights per month. The service is made as flexible as possible to allow families to utilise their nights when it suits them best. One of the most rewarding things for us as a staff team is when we hear that a family has attended an event that they wouldn’t normally be able to, or that they have been away as a family with the other children, knowing that their child is being well looked after. The Snoozelen room has been a great asset to the service. The children love all the lights and colours and they feel relaxed when they use it. We are fundraising at the moment for a sensory garden which will really enhance the service as it will create a space that will encourage the children to explore and play independently.’

Gillian Phillips-Brown, whose daughter uses the service said, ‘When my daughter goes to the Meadows, she's not going to 'Respite', she's going for a sleepover with her pals. For parents of a special child, this is the stuff of dreams and wishes. For your child to participate in this rite of passage, that all other children take for granted, is simply magical. A home away from home, what more could I wish for.’

Penny O'Connell, Children's Disability Services Coordinator with the HSE in Meath said, ‘On behalf of the HSE, and in particular the Meath Disability Services Team for 6-18 year olds I'd like to commend RehabCare for its dedication and commitment to the development of this vital project. The Meadows Children’s Respite Service greatly enhances the supports and services that are available to families who have children with disabilities in County Meath. It is an excellent example of partnership working between the parents, RehabCare and the HSE multidisciplinary team.’

The staff at The Meadows work very closely with the HSE’s Disability Services Team for 6-18 year olds, through which all referrals are channelled. Consistency of care across the board is a key element of each child’s development and monthly meetings are held with the HSE to review referrals and to highlight supports that families or the service may need to cater for an individual child’s needs. Staff also work closely with the schools attended by the children, to ensure follow-up on programmes being implemented in the service.

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