19th September 2023
“Our residents are really enjoying this new initiative – you can see their delighted smiles as they get to experience being out and about with the wind in their hair,” according to Breda Delves, Director of Nursing at Killarney Community Hospitals, HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, commenting on the success of the ‘Killarney Cycling Without Age’ project.
A joint initiative between HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare and Killarney Cycling Club, the project started in May 2023 following postponement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Designed for residents of Killarney Community Hospital and St Columbanus Home, the project helps older persons, and those with mobility issues, regain the experience of being out and about on a bike and gain better access to explore their local community. Over the last 4 months, hospital and care home residents have been enjoying trips through Killarney town and around Killarney National Park.
Breda explains that the experience has “greatly benefitted our residents, playing a pivotal role in keeping them active and socially engaged. We have received very positive feedback from both our residents and their families and look forward to further developing the initiative in the future.”
The electric-assisted trishaw was purchased by Killarney Cycling Club with the help of HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare and Kerry County Council. It was then donated to Killarney Community Hospitals to ensure residents of the community hospital and care homes could regain the experience of being out on a bike in their local community. The trishaw ‘pilots’ are experienced volunteer cyclists largely from Killarney Cycling Club, who take hospital and care-home residents (usually two passengers at a time) on trips when the weather conditions are suitable.
Project co-ordinator, Noel O’Connell added that the residents “love being out on the bike and meeting people. The model of trishaw we use is called a Chat and it certainly encourages conversations whenever we are out in the National Park or around the town. Weather can be an issue at times, but the bike has a waterproof blanket cover and canopy to help along the way. Since the launch at the end of May, the trishaw has been in use each week and will increase with the number of new volunteer ‘pilots’ who have been trained to cycle around Killarney town and the National Park. The hospital and care-home staff are very supportive of the scheme and residents are always encouraged to give it a try. And for the most part, they can’t wait to go again!”
The trishaw runs from Killarney Community Hospital and St Columbanus Home. Plans to develop the scheme for other care homes are currently being researched.