I can’t believe I have already been in Ireland for nine days!
The time is flying by. Sligo is a beautiful town on the northern coast of Ireland, full of culture and history. Sligo is not a tourist hub, but is mostly filled with locals and students who attend the Institute of Technology. Staying in a town such as Sligo gives us a chance to experience the culture of a true Irish town. After our first day of sight seeing and being in Ireland, it was apparent that Ireland is filled with cultural pride. The Irish are proud of their history and heritage and are extremely willing to share it with others. The Irish culture also seems more relaxed and less dependent on work and time than the American culture, which has been a very nice change. Tea breaks and relaxing at the pub have become an everyday staple for me during the past week.
During our programs orientation we visited the different locations that we were are being placed during our time in Sligo. Each location works with people with disabilities. At all the placements we visited the attitudes of the staff amazed me. Everyone truly cared about
their job and the people they cared for. While many of the staff had
been working with this population of people for many years no one seemed hardened or jaded, but were still extremely passionate about the work the were doing.
I am working at Cregg House, a center that works with a wide range of disabilities and provides a number of services. Some of the service users live at the facility and others live in town and come during the day. I am based in the Dochas room, which is a Gaelic word for “hope.” The majority of women in this room have low verbal or communication skills, but can participate in activities and basic tasks.
Something that stood out to me at Cregg House was the variety therapeutic techniques and approaches the staff uses. The service users partake in music and art activities that have therapeutic benefits during the day. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language therapy are also offered to the service users. Hydrotherapy is also used by the mobility and therapeutic program in the center’s pool. During my first week I was able to participate in a hydrotherapy session, which was an approach that I had not previously observed before. Another program offered at Cregg House that stood out to me was their advocacy program, which meets weekly and encourages the service users to speak up for themselves and makes sure they are knowledgeable of their rights. This is a very important aspect of a facility for people with disabilities, but has been forgotten by many. The advocacy program is taken seriously by both the staff and service users and ensures that the service users have a voice and are not taken advantage of. Cregg House is an amazing facility and I am so excited for my experience there. I am learning so much from my placement already and I am really looking forward to returning tomorrow.