Multi million pound health project closes on a high

 Transforming the lives of older people in Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland

 Almost 7,000 older people have benefitted from the mPower project over the last five years. Shared learning experiences, social connections, and the provision of digital care solutions for both home and health were just some of the outcomes from this project which has exceeded all of its targets.

The success of mPower will also pave the way for service transformation and cross-border collaboration in the future.

The positive impact on the lives of older people however, is the most important outcome of the project.

Drogheda man Patrick MacLaughlan is in his 80s and worked with an mPower Community Navigator following his discharge from hospital. He said: “I was living a quiet, alone life and wondering what to do next. My prime interest was to stay healthy and not go to hospital. Karen came along and told me about things I could do that would help me stay active for much longer, both mentally and physically.

She worked with me to create a Wellbeing Plan that would include elements that I was interested in. I now do physical exercise with a lady and I get regular food deliveries. I also got an Alexa device and I get video phone calls from my family. My son in Dublin can see my face and he says “yeah this guy’s still ok.”

The project, which was managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), was successful in empowering people over 65 to take control of their health and wellbeing at home. It used social prescribing and digital health technologies.

The closing celebration event saw the release of the final evaluation report, delivered by project evaluation partners University of the Highlands and Islands. The key findings clearly demonstrate that beneficiaries have found their interactions with mPower to be positive experiences. The report highlights decreased social isolation, decreased loneliness, increased feelings of empowerment and confidence, increased digital literacy and a facilitation of self-management behaviours.

The event was attended by a wide range of interested parties, from senior stakeholders and policy professionals across the 3 governments to health and social care professionals and clinicians as well as senior representatives from the third-sector and community groups, all of whom work with older people living with a long-term condition.

Robin Swann, Northern Ireland Minister for Health said: “Collaboration has been instrumental to the success of this project.  This would not have been possible without significant partnership working by a wide range of stakeholders within and across the project areas in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.  This has included joint working between the statutory sector, the community and voluntary sector, local communities and programme beneficiaries in the project areas.  I commend all those who have contributed to the development and implementation of mPower; their hard work and dedication ensured it did not just meet but exceed its objectives.”

Minister Stephen Donnelly, Irish Minister for Health saidOver the past five years, mPower has supported older people living with long-term conditions across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland to take the steps necessary to live well, safely and independently in their own homes. mPower has provided its recipients with the support they need for the self-management of their health in the community, making a positive impact on levels of social isolation and loneliness.  

The closing event provided an important opportunity to reflect on the success of the project, including its innovative use of community navigators to facilitate social prescribing and to help to connect people to technology”. 

Minister for Public Health Scotland, Maree Todd said“It is great to see the positive impact the mPower project has had on the lives and wellbeing of those involved. It has shown the real benefit of working with people in their communities to develop the services that support them, and how this along with technologies delivers the person-centred healthcare we all want to see, supporting people to continue to live as independently as possible and manage their own health and wellbeing.

“The valuable learnings will now be taken forward as we continue to adopt new innovative approaches that can enhance our health and care services.”

Gina McIntyre, SEUPB CEO said: “Our older citizens are among the most vulnerable in our society, with their needs often overlooked, misunderstood or ignored.  Unfortunately given the global prevailing economic climate, rising living costs are in competition with constrained health and social care budgets, and there are significant challenges in meeting the rising demand for services.  

The amazing aspect to the mPower project is that it has clearly shown how effective the funding from the EU INTERREG VA programme has been in promoting health and wellbeing at an interregional level.

The INTERREG programme addresses challenges associated with borders, both economically and geographically, and this project epitomises how essential support like this in the community and the importance of the funding. The cross border collaboration, including partners in Scotland associated with mPower has helped thousands of older people reconnect and live life more independently, easing the burden on health services in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.”

mPower Programme Manager, Alan Connor said: “I’m delighted by what’s been achieved – we’ve proven that engaging with older people across a broad range of interventions can and does improve their health and wellbeing. Working with communities, listening to people, and asking ‘what matters to them’ is what it’s all about and we’re thrilled to be leaving such a strong legacy. We hope that future projects can learn from our successes and take the work forward. We’re excited to see the difference that the mPower lessons can make to the future of health and care.”

Cara O’Neill, mPower Project Board member and Head of Service for Health & Wellbeing, Community Healthcare Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo said “This project celebrates all that it has achieved in partnership with  older people in the community and voluntary sector and HSE services. Community Navigators were employed to work with people referred from health and care services to develop wellbeing plans connecting them to activities in their community as well as connecting them to technology to enhance support for health and wellbeing. This person-centred approach has been just one of the outstanding aspects of this project”.

Matched funding was also provided by the Scottish Government as well as the Departments for Health in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Please see the mPower legacy website for further details including a copy of the final evaluation report and the impact films: mpowerhealth.eu

Last updated on: 28 / 07 / 2022