Good Morning Louth is a free telephone service for older people.
It offers personal daily contact to ensure people are safe and well in their home.
It is a line of confidential communication, a friendly person whom you can talk to in total confidence, and for people living on their own, this can be a tremendous help.
It also lets people know of other local services, connects them to their local community.
Calls are made on a day and time decided by the person availing of the service. It could be once a week or five days a week.
There are 53 volunteers at the Good Morning Louth centre at Seatown Dundalk.
And now an outreach office is operating from Ferdia House, Moorehall Lodge Retirement Village in Ardee.
The Manager of Good Morning Louth is Pat Kerins and Project Coordinator is Anne Murphy.
Good Morning Louth is one of the excellent services provided by The Netwell Centre, a collaborative venture formed between DkIT, the former Dundalk Town Council and the Health Services Executive (HSE). The Netwell Centre offices are on the DkIT campus.
It was the brain-child of Rod Bond who developed the whole idea of independent supported living for older people.
The two people that help the day-to-day running of the service are Pat Kerins and Ann Marron. They are referred to as the Cúltaca (support) for older people.
When Netwell was established Pat and Ann went to Holland to see a care model in operation and when they returned to Dundalk they set up a model that suited local needs.
They identified gaps in services, and social needs in particular, and then set up groups under the Netwell umbrella that that would connect older people.
And they have succeeded. For the past nine years, older people in Louth have had the opportunity to network well.
Pat and Anne set up groups of older people that come together weekly.
There are three ladies' groups and the men's group have amalgamated with the Men's Shed group in Dundalk which was also established by the Netwell Centre.
These groups hold health and exercise classes. They are addressed by guest speakers: health professionals, garda officers.
They also have day trips - they have visited Aras an Uachtarain, Belfast etc., and every six weeks they have a social outing, a visit to a local hotel with a four-course meal, with transport provided, all for €20.
They also have a men's choir and a women's choir who dress for the occasion and provide entertainment on the day.
About four years ago, the Netwell Centre got seed funding from CAWT, the body that covers health and social well-being in border areas, to start Good Morning Louth.
They went to Donegal and Newry to look at similar projects.
It has grown over the years and now 360 people receive calls from the Good Morning Louth Centre and with the new outreach office operating from Ardee as well, that number is set to grow even further.
As Pat Kerins pointed out to me when I spoke to him this week, isolation, loneliness, and depression, has increased in this country, and people who are retired, or who find that family members have moved further away, or emigrated, can find themselves isolated.
Good Morning Louth is a community lifeline.
People may have gone through some illness and may not be able to get out and about, so a phone call, on a day and time arranged can be so important and valuable.
The Netwell Centre can make home visits, identify the needs of a person, and follow up on those needs.
They can also refer people to connected organisations, such as Cuide Linn, the care and repair service at Muirhevnamor which can do maintenance work for older people at a very reasonable cost.
There are 55 volunteers who do home visits with the Netwell Centre.
“Without the HSE and the volunteers, the Good Morning service would not exist,” said Pat Kerins, “as well as the generosity of DkIT who have accommodated us on their campus.”
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.