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A major initiative to provide independent living for the elderly in and around Claregalway has commenced with a planning application being lodged for the construction of 14 housing units in the village.

It is part of a €2.5 million investment towards the care of the elderly in the area and it is hoped that construction of the houses along with a new day care centre can commence in the autumn with occupation to take place by the end of 2018.

It is envisaged that the elderly occupants of the single storey houses will have access to the day care centre where a whole range of activities will be provided. The new development will be constructed at a greenfield site on the Oranmore Road out of the village.

The current day care centre, which was opened back in 2012, provides services for around 75 elderly residents every week. When it opened first, it operated three days a week but within a year it provided services five days every week, such was the demand.

Apart from a contribution of €10,000 from the HSE towards the running of Claregalway Day Care Centre, the remainder of the operating costs have to be raised locally with their local charity shop being a significant source of income.

But in a significant move, they have now applied for the provision of 14 housing units for the elderly along with a new day care centre at Cregboy, Claregalway. The plans were lodged with Galway County Council a couple of weeks ago.

Geraldine Carr of Claregalway Day Care Centre said that almost €2 million has been provided from the Department of Housing for the project but the funding for the construction of the new day care centre would have to be raised locally.

She said that since it was established, the day care centre has provided the opportunity for elderly residents to stay in their homes but now they want to take the service a step further by providing them with independent living in a community environment.

Geraldine said that they mainly provide a service for the elderly who live within a ten-mile radius but also accommodate some users who live in the city, Athenry and Tuam.

At the moment the centre employs two full time staff, two part time nurses and two part time administrators but they are indebted to the twelve or so volunteers who help out on a weekly basis while a further 35 volunteers help out in the charity shop in Claregalway.

Cllr Jim Cuddy, who actually spends several hours a week working in the charity shop, said that the centre had provided a lifeline for so many elderly who looked forward to coming there several times a week.

“It has been one of the success stories in Claregalway. The elderly visit there and enjoy social interaction as well as taking part in various activities and educational programmes. It is a wonderful service.

“The new departure of providing sheltered accommodation for the elderly is very welcome and will mean that those who will be living there will be looked after and not have to resort to a nursing home in their advancing years,” Cllr Cuddy added.

It is expected that a decision on the planning application will be made in late autumn and if successful, work on the houses will commence while there will be a major fundraising initiative for the day care centre.