Local Development Companies supporting health equality in communities nationwide

New figures show the impact of Sláintecare Healthy Communities

Ireland’s 49 Local Development Companies (LDCs) are identifying the health and wellness needs of their communities and building strategies to address these needs, particularly for those who are living in social and economic deprivation. A pilot initiative – called Sláintecare Healthy Communities, which is a Department of Health/HSE-funded programme that is currently being delivered by 14 LDCs – is having a positive impact on health inequalities throughout Ireland. Irish Local Development Network (ILDN), which is the national representative body for the 49 LDCs, has just published figures illustrating the programme’s impact in 2023.

The four quadrants of the infographic correspond to the four main core services covered by the programme. These are:

Social Prescribing: A Social Prescribing link worker will provide interventions and referrals to community-based services in the statutory and non-statutory sector. Social prescribing offers GPs and other health professionals a means of referring people to a range of non-clinical community supports which can have significant benefits for their overall health and wellbeing and has been used to target social isolation, loneliness and emerging mental health difficulties.

We Can Quit: We Can Quit is a friendly and supportive 12-week programme, providing group behavioural support, nicotine replacement therapy and other stop smoking medication, to help attendees quit smoking and stay quit for good. This group programme has been proven to support people around their smoking by utilising peer and social support as well as professional input. A Stop Smoking Advisor is also available in some pilot areas to provide one-to-one cessation support.

Parenting: Parenting Programmes will provide families with greater access to evidence-based parenting programmes. Parenting programmes have been shown to be one of the most effective ways to improve child and parental mental health and wellbeing.

Healthy Food Made Easy: The Healthy Food Made Easy (HFME) programme will provide a user-friendly nutrition and cookery course that helps people increase their skills to implement a healthy diet, plan meals on a budget and make easy to cook meals. A Community Food & Nutrition Worker is also available in a number of areas to support people to make healthier food choices.

Reflecting on the figures published today, Peter Brennan, CEO of Bray Area Partnership and Chairperson of the ILDN Health Equality & Wellbeing Committee, said:

“Health and wellbeing issues have been a feature in the work of Local Development Companies over many years. Experience shows that good physical and mental health are key to an individual’s ability to achieve, succeed and have a good quality of life. The impact of health inequalities is an everyday lived experienced confronting many poorer and more marginalised people. A variety of circumstances influence such conditions, linked for the most part to the social determinants of health. The Healthy Communities Programme core services provide access within targeted communities to a range of support interventions promoting healthier lifestyle behaviours. The Collaboration made possible between local partners and the local community demonstrates how national resources, as made available through the Healthy Communities Programme, can be deployed intelligently at local level, using an area or place-based approach through LDCs, to address presenting needs in a flexible, locally appropriate and effective way.”

Northside Partnership offers Sláintecare Healthy Communities on the Northside of Dublin.

Sláintecare Healthy Communities is currently being rolled out across 20 pilot areas, which were identified as areas of greatest need by the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Department of Health and Local Authorities. LDCs deliver the programme’s core services in 14 of these areas, often in partnership with other community-based organisations (e.g., the LDC might deliver the social prescribing strand while another organisation might deliver the parenting strand). The figures in the infographic cover only the services that are delivered by the 14 LDCs.

The 14 LDCs involved in delivering Sláintecare Healthy Communities are:

Local Development Company Pilot Area
Bray Area Partnership Bray (Wicklow)
Cavan County Local Development Cavan Town and County (Cavan)
County Kildare LEADER Partnership Athy (Kildare)
Dublin City Community Co-op Dublin Northeast Inner City (Dublin)
Dublin Northwest Partnership Ballymun (Dublin); Finglas and Cabra (Dublin)
Dublin Northside Partnership Kilmore and Priorswood (Dublin)
Donegal Local Development Company Gaeltacht (Donegal)
Inishowen Development Partnership Inishowen (Donegal)
Liffey Partnership Cherry Orchard (Dublin)
Mayo North East LEADER Partnership West Mayo (Mayo)
PAUL Partnership Limerick City (Limerick)
South Dublin County Partnership Clondalkin (Dublin); Tallaght (Dublin)
Westmeath Community Development Athlone and Mullingar (Westmeath)
Wexford Local Development Enniscorthy & Wexford Town (Wexford)

Further information on the work of LDCs is available at www.ildn.ie

Further information on Sláintecare Healthy Communities is available at: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/0e613-slaintecare-healthy-communities/