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“We sit, have a cuppa and chat about everything and anything”

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Volunteer says befriending the elderly can make all the difference to their lives

By Michelle Crean

The incoming winter might seem never ending for many elderly in our community - but one charity is helping to break the loneliness through companionship.

ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home is urgently calling for volunteers in the Killarney area for their befriending service.

Their Support and Befriending service is designed to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, provide assistance to solve everyday problems and enable older people to feel secure at home.

The service matches older people who would like extra social contact with volunteers in their area, who provide companionship through a weekly visit. They ask that all volunteers commit to at least one year to give the volunteer the opportunity to have a meaningful experience while ensuring continuity of service for older people.

One kind-hearted local woman, Elaine Shine, became a volunteer with ALONE as she wanted to do something to help others.

"As I was registered with Kerry Volunteer Centre, I received an email last October that ALONE were looking for volunteers," Elaine, who works at the Killarney Advertiser, said.

"I applied and began the process with them. It took just a simple class during the pandemic, filling out a garda vetting form and talking to the relevant people at ALONE to determine who would be best suited to match with me."

Not long after Elaine was matched with a local lady whom she visited once a week for two hours in the evening.

"We sit, have a cuppa and chat about everything and anything. This means so much to my lady as she has no family or close friends here in Ireland. Her sister and extended family live in the USA and England. She has one other person calling to take her for a drive or some shopping as she is in her 80s and wouldn’t feel comfortable driving to some places as it is too busy with other cars and people. These visits mean the world to her and she would have the cups and plates ready, and be waiting for me to get there after work," she said.

"There are many, like my lady, who are alone the majority of the time, if not all the time, and feel so isolated from the world. It only takes one to two hours per week and is very rewarding. They may need help with technology, or help to make lists of things to get them through the winter, help to book or pay for something online and many other things."

Volunteers must be over 18 years of age, and be able to provide support and companionship to an older person by visiting them at least once a week. To become a volunteer, contact volunteer@alone.ie who will link you in with the local Volunteer Support Officer.

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Killarney Triathlon Club’s open water swim on the lake

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On Tuesday evening last, members of the Killarney Triathlon Club took part in a breathtaking open water swim, starting from Dundag Beach and spanning the middle lake to a nearby island. Covering a distance of approximately 1.5 kilometers, the event saw all participants return safely, basking in a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.

Set against the stunning backdrop of Killarney National Park, swimmers enjoyed views of woodlands,  mountains, and Muckross House. Safety was paramount during the swim, as it is in all the club’s events. Essential precautions included the use of tow floats, safety kayakers, and safety boats, ensuring the well-being of all participants.

“Our club is incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such a beautiful environment,” said Caitriona Shanahan, PRO of Killarney Triathlon Club. “The views during our swims are truly spectacular, and the safety measures we implement help everyone feel secure and enjoy the experience.”

Killarney Triathlon Club offers numerous benefits to athletes of all levels. These include structured training programs, expert coaching, group workouts and more. 

“We welcome all levels and abilities. Joining our club not only improves physical fitness but also offers great fun and the added benefits of stress relief from sea swimming. There truly is nothing like the calming effect of a group swim in the sea.” Caitriona added.

For those interested in joining the Killarney Triathlon Club, more information can be found on their social media platforms and their website, Killarneytri.com.

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Danny Healy-Rae welcomes decision to push back changes for cataract payments

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The Health Service Executive has deferred a move to cut the price it reimburses people for cataract treatments in the European Union and in Northern Ireland, under its overseas treatment schemes and a separate system for the North.

The prices were due to change from the start of this month, but the HSE has pushed the date back so that no one is disadvantaged, and to fully communicate with patients, treatment consultants and providers, cost changes will not come into effect until September 1.

The payments for less complex eye treatments were due to fall from €1,912 to €863 or the National Health Service equivalent of £766 in Northern Ireland. The most common cataract procedure payments were due to reduce from €1,456 to €1,171.

The HSE said that the vast majority of procedures fall into this new payment price. It said that the more complex glaucoma/cataract treatment payments will rise from €1,912 to €4,206.

Danny Healy Rae welcomed the news saying, “Following my representations and raising of this matter in the Dáil, I am glad that the HSE have agreed that they will continue to reimburse the higher rates for cataract procedure for those carried out up to the end of August 2024.

“I am advising anyone who needs to have their cataracts removed to do so now before the change to reimbursement amounts comes in.”

All cataract treatment carried out in Belfast after the 1st September 2024 will be subject to the new DRG rates.

Honouring the Kerry women of the revolutionary period

Kerry County Council is to invite expressions of interest next week for the commissioning and development of a commemorative and artistic piece which will honour the role played by women in Kerry during the revolutionary period between 1912 and 1923.

The project follows a joint motion by the five female members of Kerry County Council who called for the development and commissioning of a meaningful and lasting commemorative piece which would reflect the significant and diverse roles and activities of women and their involvement in the campaign for Irish Independence at the beginning of the twentieth century.

A Working Group, including the five female councillors, has been developing a design brief, and the Council intends to publish a detailed brief for the memorial next week and expressions of interest will be invited.

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