In the HSE CH08 area, the Community Navigator role was fulfilled by ALONE, a national charity supporting older people in Ireland. ALONE was a perfect fit for mPower as they provide the kind of support mPower sought for older people. Services include befriending, regular visits, help with practical tasks, using technology to build networks and to stay secure and well while living independently, and providing a single point of contact to help and facilitate ageing at home. ALONE is a growing organisation aiming to have 9000 volunteers by 2025 and are well on track to achieving this.
Whilst there was great benefit to mPower beneficiaries from having ALONE so closely involved in the project, ALONE too gained from cross- border collaboration with partners in Scotland and Northern Ireland. They were able to learn of other approaches to supporting older people and spread this knowledge with colleagues in other parts of Ireland.
For example, working with Healthy Ireland they were able to secure devices for older people but needed to work out how best to distribute them during a period of lockdown and also to support recipients in using the devices. mPower partners in the Western Isles and Southern Health and Social Care Trust already had experience of this and were able to give guidance. They learnt how to support people into using their device by participating in SCVO’s Digital Champion training which gives a structured approach to getting people online. The main lessons learned from this training were to find the “hook” which will get people using their device by exploring something they are interested in and finding out more about it on a device. The second lesson was to emphasise that they should not fear the device or feel that they might break it by not using it properly.
ALONE were able to build on their support for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s by learning about tools used by colleagues in Scotland such as ADAM, a catalogue of products which have been proven to be of benefit to people with Alzheimer’s disease, and Playlist for Life which revives memories in a soothing manner for people with dementia. This new learning was disseminated to colleagues within ALONE and with other organisations in Ireland working with people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“As Community Navigators we are constantly going to our “toolbox” to look for resources for the people we support.” said Karen Coan, Community Navigator in Monaghan and Louth. “I found the knowledge sharing to be of huge benefit in doing my job and building my “toolbox”.