A dedicated exercise garden featuring state-of-the-art tai chi exercise equipment, long chatty three-course lunches, yoga, art and craft sessions, drama performances and bingo – that’s life at the Clonakilty Day Care Centre.
Now in their 90s, and with 23 years and 25 years attendance behind them respectively, Ellen Coughlan and Nora Cullinane remember when the centre was established back in 1990. Then it was just a single room with a table, 12 chairs, a kettle, some mugs and a few plates of biscuits. Things have come a long way since then.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the centre, a beautiful stone water feature was unveiled on Thursday, December 3rd last.
The new fountain, located in the garden of the Day Care Centre at Mount Carmel Community Hospital in Clonakilty, constitutes an eye-catching sculpture of two children holding a bucket of water.
The piece was donated by the Friends of the Daycare Centre, a group of local people who have fundraised to support the centre since its inception a quarter of a century ago.
The sculpture is actually one of two donated by this group, which is in turn supported by the people of Clonakilty and surrounding areas. The other piece, now also on display in the garden, shows three children sitting on a bench.
‘Both sculptures are of children, symbolising how clients at the centre are so young at heart,’ explained Bernadette Horgan-Edmead, the centre’s day care nurse co-ordinator.
A cake specially baked for the occasion was cut by Winifred Maxwell, who is in her 80s and has been attending the centre for 20 years. Helping her with the task was Elizabeth Coomey, also in her 80s, and a client of the centre for two decades. At the clients’ request, she said, the 25th anniversary unveiling ceremony was a relatively low-key affair. Following 11am mass, they convened for some tea and cake before the official unveiling of the fountain.
The event was attended by former staff members, former staff nurses Mary Corcoran, Breda O’Hea and Jean Buttimer, as well as representatives from the other day-groups – in each case, the longest-attending clients. ‘We asked our clients how they would like to celebrate this wonderful anniversary and this is what they wanted to do!’ said Bernadette.
The centre boasts two well-furnished rooms with more than 90 regular clients in groups of about 20, each group attending on a particular day, a packed programme of activities and a waiting list which currently stands at 10 people. On Tuesdays Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays it facilitates a daily group of about 20 regulars between 9am and 5pm.
On Mondays the facility caters for about a dozen high-dependence clients with specific needs, who enjoy a very patient-intensive programme of activities. Clients enjoy morning and afternoon tea and biscuits or brown bread as well as a tasty three-course lunch and a wide range of activities.
There’s an exercise group which trains outside in the special exercise garden (weather permitting) and they use special equipment designed around the concept of tai chi, while clients also enjoy yoga sessions and can attend a weekly mass should they wish to do so.
Clients – some of whom are transported to the centre from their homes by a special HSE-subsidised bus – also participate in art and crafts, often availing of the expertise of visiting artists. They also enjoy sewing and bingo sessions as well as drama performances by local schoolchildren.
Meanwhile Bernadette is on hand to attend to everyone’s nursing needs in conjunction with the public health nurse; blood pressure and blood sugar level checks, dressings and iron injections, while chiropody and physiotherapy services are also available.
‘We have a very good working relationship with the hospital physiotherapy department and our clients benefit from one-to-one physiotherapy,’ says Bernadette.
On the social front, Transition Year students from local second level schools make regular visits. ‘They bring loads of fun with them, participate in various activities, bring their own ideas and help with things like the Christmas decorations. They also get involved in the arts programme,’ explained Bernadette. ‘We also have musical groups visiting and we have visits from the first communicants who perform a Nativity play. Visiting yoga teachers and presentations by local gardai on issues such as safety and security in the home also feature from time to time.’
Clonakilty Day Care also has access to HSE services including dietician talks and presentations on skincare and heart health.
‘We listen closely to our clients about their needs,’ says Bernadette. For all of these benefits and services, clients pay just €2.50 – and this includes morning and afternoon tea and biscuits as well as a three-course lunch. The bus to and from the centre costs €5 return.
‘We’re the longest-running centre in West Cork and one of the longest-running in the Cork region,’ says Bernadette proudly. ‘The centre is an integral part of community life in the area – our clients come from Clon, Dunmanway, Rosscarbery, Timoleague, Ballinascarty, Shannonvale and other areas.’
For the most part, staff and clients know each other for years. One of the centre’s two attendants, Margaret Heffernan, has been working there since it opened in 1990, while her colleague, Bernadette O’Sullivan has been with the facility for a decade. ‘Their official titles are multi-task attendants – and they really fulfil that role.’ quips Bernadette.