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Launch of Report on Special Purpose Award

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This report documents the development of a Special Purpose Award at HETAC level 6 which was delivered as part of a two year training programme for Community Health Workers in the Primary Healthcare Projects. It was developed as part of a collaboration between the Health Service Executive, Ennis Community Development Project North Tipperary Leadership Partnership, and Limerick Institute of Technology.


The Special Purpose Award comprised two 5 credit modules at HETAC level 6: Certificate in Health Advocacy and Community Development.   A full semester at undergraduate level is usually 30 credits, so the modules making up the Special Purpose Award are the equivalent of 1/3 of a semester in the first year of an undergraduate degree.  The Special Purpose Award was designed with the intention that it should replace the 10 credit module, Health and Health promotion, of the BA in Applied Social Studies in Social Care.


The purpose of the overall training programme was to provide trainees with an opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies necessary to become Community Health Workers for the Traveller Community. The programme was delivered at two locations: Ennis Community Development Project and North Tipperary LEADER Partnership based in Thurles and was delivered alongside other elements of the training for Community Health Workers.


The Special Purpose Award was developed in order to assure accreditation for participants.  It was part of an overall training programme in the two centres, the elements of which were developed on a needs basis and which linked the course work with practical work placement

The launch took place on 1 December 2016 at Limerick Institute of Technology. The modules which made up the award were delivered to trainee community health workers at Ennis CDP and North Tipperary LEADER Partnership. Ms. Mary Kenny, National Lead for Traveller Health with the HSE, who launched the report said ‘this programme offers opportunities for many who would not normally enter third level, to participate in higher education’.

Ms Josephine Fogarty, Traveller Health Unit Coordinator was happy with the outcome of the report and the development of the Special Purpose Award.  She highlighted the importance of this initiative as it provides recognised accredited training to Community Health Workers to enable them to undertake their role effectively, and it also opens up education doors for them to undertake further study if that is what they would like to do.  She commended the work of the coordinators at Ennis CDP and NTLP, Siobhan O’Connor and Imelda Reidy, who were involved in the development of the two modules and in the co-ordination and delivery of the Training Programme.  

The evaluation findings were presented by Lisa O’Rourke Scott, Research Coordinator of Social Sciences ConneXions at the Department of Applied Social Sciences.  The report found that the initiative was extremely successful: all nine participants passed the course successfully. The award can be used as exemptions against subjects in the first year of a degree in social care work, and indeed one of the nine successful participants who graduated with the award is currently enrolled on the degree programme on LITs Ennis campus. 

Ms Jennifer Moran Stritch, Chair of the Traveller Health Unit for the Midwest region, and a lecturer and researcher at LIT commented that this development was a wonderful reflection on the kinds of initiatives that can emerge as a result of partnerships between care agencies and the educational sector. ‘This development of the Special Purpose Award has the capacity to open up access to higher education for groups who might not normally have an opportunity to attend’ she said.  The report recommended that additional modules be developed to assist further pathways to higher education and that the Special Purpose Award be offered in other areas of the Country and to other groups who might need community health workers.

Ms Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences at LIT, said in her address at the launch that ‘opening opportunities for non-traditional learners to access third level education, means everyone has the same chance to realise their potential. Education is a right, not a privilege’

Mary Kenny’s concluding remarks at the launch ‘that intelligence is not the monopoly of any class’ left the audience of community health workers, students, LIT and HSE staff thoroughly inspired by her address.

Photo Caption 

Mary Kenny, National Lead for Traveller Health, HSE, Lisa O’ Rourke-Scott, Department of Applied Social Sciences, LIT, Bridget Mongans, Community Health Worker, Clare Primary health Care Programme, Josephine Fogarty, Co-ordinator of Traveller Health Services, CHO 3, HSE, Margaret Doyle, Community Health Worker, Thurles Primary Health Care Programme, Cathy Jones, Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences, LIT, Jennifer Moran-Stritch, Department of Applied Social Sciences, LIT

Click here to read the Evaluation of HETAC level 6, Special Purpose Award: Health Advocacy and Community Development at LIT

Ennis cdp        North Tipperary Leader Partnership     HSE         Social Sciences Connections

Last updated on: 08 / 12 / 2016