HSE Sligo/Leitrim Project “Emergency Out of Home Support for Children during COVID-19 Pandemic” is nominated for the Healthcare Excellence Awards 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken such as schools closing, respite services closing and working from home, many children with complex needs and their families were feeling immense pressure. A team of staff in Sligo /Leitrim took the initiative to roll out a service at short notice, to provide Out of Home Emergency Support, in very uncertain times, in order to meet the needs of this cohort of children and their families. The service was received well by children and families.

One parent said “the time allocated was the only time I could spend home schooling my other children” while another said “it just gives us time to breathe”.

The team continued to provide this service in the third wave of the pandemic building on what was learned in the previous months.

The Children’s Disability Network Team identified families of children with complex needs requiring additional supports due to the pandemic impacting on their lives.

Eleanor Gallagher, Respite Coordinator said “Seeing first-hand the personal difficulties that families were experiencing during the pandemic was difficult but being able to offer them support in a safe environment was so rewarding. Team work and participation was key to the success of this initiative. I value and appreciate the huge efforts put in by all my colleagues across all disciplines which supported families during this difficult period”.

In total 50 Children over a five month period were provided with Out of Home Emergency Day Support in 6 sites across Sligo & Leitrim. Each child received a tailored person centred service based on the child and family’s individual needs and personal profile. Members of the Children’s Disability Team who had previously supported the children socially and therapeutically delivered the programme of support.

St Cecilia’s Special School, Department of Education and Skills supported this programme by providing the school environment as a base from which to deliver the service. The Out of Home Emergency support team also worked alongside Department of Education staff in St Cecilia’s Special school to provide a Health led strand of the July provision programme. North West Parents and Friends Association provided an additional centre base for service delivery in their specialist preschool, Holy Family.

Christina Corrigan, Community Facilitator for Disability Services said, “The success of this initiative can be credited to the local inter agency working between the HSE and the Department of Education and Skills. Collaboration, communication and an appreciation of each other's role in interdisciplinary working were the key elements of the success of this project”.

Kate Ferguson, Service Manager said “The Emergency Day Support was an excellent example of team working and partnership at all levels".

Last updated on: 17 / 09 / 2021