On 20 March 2020, we had to close our Adult Service Centres as a response to Covid-19. These centres provided vital supports to the adults with disabilities who attend there, in many cases, every day. For many adult with disabilities, the centres were their connection to their community and provided opportunity to participate in training, personal development and socialise with friends. Without the centres, many adults were facing weeks of isolation and loneliness.
Very quickly, staff in Enable Ireland Adult Services got together with volunteers from Microsoft Ireland to see how we could virtually reopening Enable Ireland Adult Services. In a few short weeks, using technology we opened up a virtual community centre for these adults. This enabled them to engage with activities at their local service centre from the comfort and safety of their own home.
The service was initially piloted in Dublin in April 2020 for adults accessing Enable Ireland’s day, residential and respite services. It was hugely successful and by the end of the year plans to extended to the rest of the country where Enable Ireland provide Adult Services, including Tipperary, Clare, Limerick, Cork and Kerry, were well developed. Now over 170 adult service owners access the virtual service and over 160 hours of services are delivered via the platform every week. While our day centres and hubs around the country are open, we continue to provide a mix of face-to-face and virtual supports for adults with disabilities.
The programme of activities are selected and in many cases run by adult service owners themselves and reflect their interests. Daily and weekly timetables of activities include everything from yoga, art, Zumba, bingo, physiotherapy, quizzes, theatre and cooking. The creativity knows no end!
To find out more about Enable Ireland's Virtual Service contact Jason O'Reilly, Virtual Service Co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org.
This evaluation report documents the impact of an innovative service model developed by Enable Ireland in response to the closure of Adult Service centres in March 2020 as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Claire works as a support worker with Enable Ireland’s Virtual Service for adults. Claire’s work involves facilitating sessions on the virtual service and providing technical support to other adults with disabilities using the service.
Read about Claire's experience working with the Virtual Service and the difference it has made in her life.