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Community Health

Multi Million Pound Health Project Closes on a High

Almost 7,000 older people have benefitted from the mPower project over the last five years. Shared learning experiences, social connections, and the provision of digital care solutions for both home and health were just some of the outcomes from this project which has exceeded all of its targets.

The success of mPower will also pave the way for service transformation and cross-border collaboration in the future.

The positive impact on the lives of older people however, is the most important outcome of the project.

One 72 year old lady from Newry City with a history of depression who cares for her husband commented on the mPower service: “You have done a lot of good and were able to successfully interact and build trust over the phone and genuinely showed you cared. You have done more for us than anyone else has ever done. You always took time to call and always touched base, you were my lifesaver. You were able to recognise from our conversations if there was something I needed help with and I think the world of you. A lot of days I felt alone and your call really helped me, I looked forward to it and I will miss our conversations.” 

Another woman, 78 years young, from South Armagh said:  “I live on my own and am not a very social person so at times I felt lost, withdrawn and fearful for the future, but unable to do anything about it. After seeing a notice about mPower in my church bulletin ‘do you sometimes feel lonely or isolated?’ I rang the number. 

Shortly after I had a call from Aidan who is a very easy person to speak to and has been so helpful, giving me lots of information from good places to go for a walk to groups I could join to getting me help with safety in my home.

In the span of few months my life has gone from lonely and isolated to busy and dizzy at times and its great! There is so much going on for older people and I am so glad that I read the article in the church bulletin and now have a variety of different things going on in my life.”

The project, which was managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), was successful in empowering people over 65 to take control of their health and wellbeing at home. It used social prescribing and digital health technologies.

The closing celebration event saw the release of the final evaluation report, delivered by project evaluation partners University of the Highlands and Islands.The key findings clearly demonstrate that beneficiaries have found their interactions with mPower to be positive experiences. The report highlights decreased social isolation, decreased loneliness, increased feelings of empowerment and confidence, increased digital literacy and a facilitation of self-management behaviours.

The event was attended by a wide range of interested parties, from senior stakeholders and policy professionals across the 3 governments to health and social care professionals and clinicians as well as senior representatives from the third-sector and community groups, all of whom work with older people living with a long-term condition.

Robin Swann, Northern Ireland Minister for Health said:  “Collaboration has been instrumental to the success of this project.  This would not have been possible without significant partnership working by a wide range of stakeholders within and across the project areas in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.  This has included joint working between the statutory sector, the community and voluntary sector, local communities and programme beneficiaries in the project areas.  I commend all those who have contributed to the development and implementation of mPower; their hard work and dedication ensured it did not just meet but exceed its objectives.”

Minister Donelly, Irish Minister for Health said: “Over the past five years, mPower has supported older people living with long-term conditions across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland to take the steps necessary to live well, safely and independently in their own homes. mPower has provided its recipients with the support they need for the self-management of their health in the community, making a positive impact on levels of social isolation and loneliness.  

The closing event provided an important opportunity to reflect on the success of the project, including its innovative use of community navigators to facilitate social prescribing and to help to connect people to technology”. 

Minister for Public Health Scotland, Maree Todd said: “It is great to see the positive impact the mPower project has had on the lives and wellbeing of those involved. It has shown the real benefit of working with people in their communities to develop the services that support them, and how this along with technologies delivers the person-centred healthcare we all want to see, supporting people to continue to live as independently as possible and manage their own health and wellbeing.

“The valuable learnings will now be taken forward as we continue to adopt new innovative approaches that can enhance our health and care services.”

Gina McIntyre, SEUPB CEO said: “Our older citizens are among the most vulnerable in our society, with their needs often overlooked, misunderstood or ignored.  Unfortunately given the global prevailing economic climate, rising living costs are in competition with constrained health and social care budgets, and there are significant challenges in meeting the rising demand for services.  

The amazing aspect to the mPower project is that it has clearly shown how effective the funding from the EU INTERREG VA programme has been in promoting health and wellbeing at an interregional level.

The INTERREG programme addresses challenges associated with borders, both economically and geographically, and this project epitomises how essential support like this in the community and the importance of the funding. The cross border collaboration, including partners in Scotland associated with mPower has helped thousands of older people reconnect and live life more independently, easing the burden on health services in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.”

mPower Programme Manager, Alan Connor said: “I’m delighted by what’s been achieved – we’ve proven that engaging with older people across a broad range of interventions can and does improve their health and wellbeing. Working with communities, listening to people, and asking ‘what matters to them’ is what it’s all about and we’re thrilled to be leaving such a strong legacy. We hope that future projects can learn from our successes and take the work forward. We’re excited to see the difference that the mPower lessons can make to the future of health and care.”

Matched funding was also provided by the Scottish Government as well as the Departments for Health in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Please see the mPower legacy website for further details including a copy of the final evaluation report and the impact films: mpowerhealth.eu

ENDS

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