Over 50 Years in Mayo


In 1966, a public meeting was convened arising from a deep concern at the inadequacy of services for children with learning disability in Mayo. Almost two hundred people attended the meeting in a local hotel. The Organisations journey began that night over 50 years ago.
 
Through fundraising and support from government the Association started providing services throughout the County. Our Special Schools were the first services developed in the County. St. Anthony’s, Castlebar was established initially and St. Brid’s, St.Dympna’s and St. Nicholas' followed.
Special Classes were also opened in Ballyhaunis and Belmullet.
As the years roll by, we see increased  supports for individual children in mainstream schools through the provision of Special Needs Assistant, Autism Resource Workers and a wide range of multi disciplinary supports based on their needs. 
 
Day Services have and continue to be an important support to many people. Over the years, the number of people availing of these services has continued to grow. The Association is challenged to preserve what people need and value yet find new, different and more responsive ways to meet their needs. In addressing this challenge, the Organisation continually strives to provide more individualised and satisfying arrangements for people. Supporting people to explore the world of work and progress to paid employment, if so desired, is one development to emerge from this quest.
 
School leavers no longer automatically progress to adult day services, with an increasing number choosing further mainstream training options or proceeding directly to open employment. This is a big change from past years. These are important developments as they signify that people have a greater range of options and are better placed to elect a life path of their own choosing.

Group homes provide a very necessary and valuable service to those who need them. At one time, this was the only option available to people who wanted or needed an alternative living arrangement. However for some time the Organisation has been moving away from congregate group home settings to providing more personally tailored arrangements.

Some people present with more complex needs and we are challenged to find the supports that will be most gratifying. This has required the Organisation to engage in a very substantial person centred planning approach. This process has enabled new living arrangement possibilities to
become a reality for people such as home sharing, contract family arrangements or living in their own house. The person may live on their own or with others with some supports provided by a combination of staff, family, friends and volunteers.

We know from our conversations with the people who seek our support and those close to them, and if we are true to our mission statement, that we must do our best to honour their preferences. We will, therefore, be continually challenged to provide different and very individualised arrangements, acknowledging that people’s needs and preferences may also change over time.

The Association also provide a range of community based supports. They provide a range of services such as Social Work, Psychology, Community Facilitation, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy as well as Family Support, Autism Resource Workers, In Home Advisors, Transport and others. Often they provide individualised packages of support to a young child and their family, to a young adult contemplating life options after leaving school, or to an adult who wants to continue living independently.

Fifty Years ago, Western Care was one of the earliest established Organisations in the Country and thanks to the fortitude, vision and creativity of its members we proudly stand today as an Organisation that supports over seven hundred people.