Paddy McGeoghegan, Communications Officer at Epilepsy Ireland, introduces us to the work of the organisation.
Epilepsy Ireland was founded in 1966 and for over 50 years we have been working to achieve a society where no persons’ life is limited by epilepsy. We have achieved a lot over the years but there’s a lot more work to do on the behalf of persons with epilepsy here in Ireland.
With 11 offices throughout Ireland, we are from the community and for the community in providing education and support on the condition. Our aims are as follows:
- To provide quality and relevant support, information & advice, meeting the needs of people with epilepsy, their families and carers, professionals and the wider community
- To communicate effectively with stakeholders; to raise awareness and to improve public understanding of epilepsy; and to advocate for the rights of those with epilepsy, their families and carers.
- To provide relevant training and education services to people with epilepsy, their families, and healthcare and other professionals.
- To undertake, encourage, fund and communicate research into the causes of, cures for and management of epilepsy and into the social and psychological effects of the condition.
- To support people with epilepsy by raising the funds necessary to ensure the short-term funding requirements and long term sustainability of the organisation.
- To operate a stable, progressive organisation meeting all regulatory requirements and striving to implement best-practice standards in the areas of governance, organisational quality, human resources and financial management.
Earlier this year (2019), we passed a significant milestone of having invested over €1million in Irish research into the condition of epilepsy, its causes and potential treatments. One such study we supported is the “Prevalence of Epilepsy in Ireland Study”, which was the first national prevalence study in Europe when published in 2010. More recent studies have looked at a range of diverse issues such as the molecular mechanisms of epilepsy, the role of the microbiome in autoimmune epilepsy, strategies used by people when disclosing their epilepsy, developing e-technology solutions in patient care and whether dogs can predict seizures.
In recent years, our support services have also been developed through a suite of new education and self-management programmes. The Living Well With Epilepsy Programme is aimed at people with a new diagnosis and parents of children with a new diagnosis. STEPS and INNERWISE are self-management programmes which facilitate people in becoming experts in their own healthcare. These and other services have led to a 40% increase in the number of contacts to our service in recent years.
A longer running programme is Training For Success, a one-year college access and pre-employment course aimed at young adults whose educational & social development may have been disrupted due to their condition. Based at the Institute of Technology Sligo, the programme recently celebrated its 20th graduating class. 85% of students who have completed the course have gone on to further education or employment, a figure we are immensely proud of.