Irish Rural Link (IRL)– the national network representing the interest of rural communities, launched its new Meals on Wheels Network website and Interactive Service Map on Monday last, 6th September.

The Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler officially launched the Website and Map at an outdoor event in Dr. Martins Day Care Centre, Portlaw, Co. Waterford.

The National Meals on Wheels network was established under the umbrella of IRL in 2015.  The aim of the network is to provide a local, community led professional facility to assist people who require services to maintain optimum health, independence with strong life extending possibilities.

Demand for Meals on Wheels was increasing prior to the pandemic, but increased significantly during this time.  With an ageing population, demand is expected to continue to increase in the coming years.  Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal.  It also helps reduce isolation and loneliness with a social element to it.  Meals on Wheels aligns with many of the objectives of Sláintecare – the Government’s new healthcare framework – providing health and social care in the community and allowing people to age in their own home.

Over the past few months Irish Rural Link undertook a needs assessment of the service across the country and developed an Interactive map to help identify gaps in services.  This map is available on the new website and is the first of its kind for Meals on Wheels.  It is a valuable resource for people to find a service in their local area for themselves or family member or friend who could benefit from the service.

Seamus Boland, CEO of IRL, said:

The CSO report published last week on Ireland’s population showed there was a 17.9% increase over the past 5 years in the number of people over 65 years. These numbers will continue to increase. How we deliver healthcare to older people must change and community services such as Meals on Wheels play a key role in ensuring people can age at home with easy access to services.

Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD says:

The new National Meals on Wheels Network’ website will provide an invaluable resource for individuals and families in communities across the country seeking these vital services. The interactive Map available on the website is the first of its kind in Ireland providing a dedicated resource for people looking for information on services in their local area.   The development of the Network and website will not only help those availing of this service today but also those who will be utilising services in the future and will allow for greater inclusivity for people in rural communities. The delivery of these vital services align with Government’s priority of supporting people to live in their own homes and communities, with dignity and independence for as long as possible.

Anyone wanting to avail of Meals on Wheels can check out the map on the website on  Any service provider who would like to join the network can do so through the website also or contact Irish Rural Link on 090 6482744.

Irish Rural Link represents the interests of locally based rural groups in disadvantaged and marginalised rural areas by highlighting problems, advocating appropriate policies, sharing experiences and examples of good practice. It has a membership of nearly 600 rural community groups dedicated to sustainable rural development and represents rural communities at a national and international level

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