IWA staff in Cavan met with members and families last week to communicate the issues and last night held a further communication and engagement session in the Kilmore Hotel.

Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) continues to work tirelessly on ongoing recruitment and retention issues affecting the organisation nationwide. These issues have led to the tough decision to change our service delivery model in our Cavan Community Centre from an in-person model to an outreach model, akin to that of COVID-19 times. 

In a statement issued last week, we outlined that the staffing issues were due to the pay gap between the rates IWA can pay their staff and the rates of pay of those doing similar roles in the HSE are receiving, underfunding of the community centre and competition for potential staff in the area with other sectors. Whilst the situation is unfolding in Cavan at the moment, these issues are causing challenges for the organisation, nationwide.

IWA staff in Cavan met with members and families last week to communicate the issues and last night held a further communication and engagement session in the Kilmore Hotel. In line with IWA’s values of openness and integrity, the meeting brought together members, their families, public representatives and local HSE staff, in the hope of engaging all invested parties to look towards resolutions of the ongoing issues.

We are grateful to the nearly 180 people who turned out in support of Irish Wheelchair Association Cavan Service. Members Trevor Gayadeen, Mary Morris and Merilyn Morton bravely shared their stories on the evening, with all echoing Trevor’s sentiment that IWA’s service is an “essential service”. Trevor suffered a stroke and battled to get out of hospital and regain his life. Having been confined to a hospital room for a long time, he shared that he is now confined to his house as IWA was his only outlet. Many other concerned parents and carers, like Brian Conaty dad to Kaitlin and Mary Smith, mum to Martha spoke out on the evening sharing that their loved ones are being “isolated” and “left behind”.

Speaking at the event, IWA Chief Operations Officer, Christopher Hoey said: “Tonight is about the reality of where we are at present. We are looking for long-term solutions, we want to get back to delivering the high-quality professional services that Cavan is known for, and we want to see everyone back in the centre as soon as practical. The pay rates for IWA staff is the key issue to resolving this issue long term. The recent public sector pay increase of 10.2% has only widened the gap. It’s time to get this sorted and I implore those in Government to get back into the Workplace Relations Commission with Union representatives with people in mind. People on the ground in communities, like Cavan, are suffering as a result of this.”

There was strong political support in the room with Deputies Pauline Tully and Brendan Smith promising to continue to apply pressure in the Dáil. IWA has committed to keep everyone informed in their work seeking long-term sustainable solutions and working with the HSE to secure required resources. 

Irish Wheelchair Association would like to express their gratitude to members, their families, and the local community for their understanding and unwavering support during this time. IWA’s dedicated staff at the local centre continue to work tirelessly to ensure that no member is left isolated during this period of uncertainty. Whilst the negotiations for a long term solution continues, local staff and members from the Cavan centre are looking forward to a trip to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin this Thursday.

(Pictured below: IWA’s dedicated team in Cavan continue to keep in close contact with our members at this time through our ‘outreach’ model.)