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Work starts on regional Alzheimer respite centre

CONSTRUCTION workers have moved onto the site of a former country hotel near Killaloe bridge, to start work on a new regional respite centre for Alzheimer patients in the Mid-West.
Contracts have been signed to convert the former Waterman’s Lodge Hotel, Ballina, Killaloe into a state-of-the-art short term 10-bed centre. It is expected that renovation work will take about nine months and the branch hopes to open the new facility by the middle of 2010.
The Limerick branch of the Alzheimer Society announced their plans over three years ago to convert the hotel into a specialist Alzheimer respite centre but lack of government funding delayed the start of building work.
The society will provide a three-night and four-day short term respite service to 10 clients weekly, without any daycare facilities, following a commitment from the HSE of €517,000 in annual service funding.
Although the HSE also agreed to provide €517,000 in capital funding, this only represents one third of the €1.5 million required to complete the conversion project. The branch must also generate in the region of €1 million from other fundraising ventures. To this end, the society has established the Friends of Waterman’s Lodge network for people throughout the region that wish to support the respite centre project. 
Organisers are hoping to develop a group of people who can provide expertise and fundraising ideas for the project. 
Volunteers and fundraisers have campaigned for an Alzheimer respite centre in the region the for almost seven years. The Waterman’s Lodge Hotel was purchased by the Alzheimer Society in 2006 following contributions of €1m from both the HSE and JP McManus Pro-Am Fund and a significant local fundraising drive. 
Limerick branch chairperson, Marilyn Sheehan, said people in the Mid-West have been very generous in supporting the project to date and hopes people will continue to support efforts to maintain  this vital service.
A fundraising concert will be held in the University of Limerick Concert Hall on Monday, November 30 at 8pm. Patrons will have an opportunity to take  a trip down memory lane with favourites from legendary entertainers such as  Tommy Drennan, Denis Allen and Johnny Duhan.  
The line-up on the night includes  Derek Moloney, The McCormack Singers, Seoda, The Savoy Orchestra, The Limerick Tenors, Seán O’Shea, Eugene O’Connor, Tony Sheehan, Michael Nash, Michael Shortt, John Doyle, Joe Neiland, Olive O’Brien, Stephen O’Shea and Joe Sciascia. Broadcaster Lorcan Murray of Lyric FM  will be  MC on the night.
Most of the artists recently featured on the CD Remembered Joys, which was compiled to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society and which is now on sale.
Close to 4,000 people in the Mid-West, including 1,200 in Clare, suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.  
Research shows that many Alzheimer’s carers spend more than 14 hours per day caring, often without a break or adequate sleep.Specialist respite services play a vital role in helping carers to manage.

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