RehabCare Bantry goes the extra mile in aiding recovery

Community Services Manager Catherine Doyle, Community Artist, Aoife Doolan, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly, service users Pauline O'Sullivan and Michael O'Riordan, at the official opening of The Music Box in the Rehab Care Centre, Bantry . Photo Tony McElhinney

Posted on: 13th November, 2017

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Above: Pictured at the opening of The Music Box at RehabCare Bantry (l-r) Catherine Doyle Community Services Manager, Aoife Doolan Community artist, Jim Daly TD Minister of State for Mental Health, Pauline O’Sullivan and Michael O’Riordan. Pauline and Michael shared their personal recovery stories at the opening of The Music Box on October 9.

On the edge of town behind Bantry Hospital at Droumleigh, RehabCare fits so snugly into 14 acres of woodland that it can be difficult to find. However this is a place that is worth seeking out says Mary O’Brien.


Opened in August 2001, RehabCare Bantry provides a safe and positive environment for people who are disadvantaged and have a disability. Client’s capabilities however are focused on, rather than their disabilities. It’s a person-centred approach and means that clients at the Centre are supported to participate in their local community if they want to. As far as possible the client’s choices, aspirations and needs are met. This could be something as simple as being accompanied into town on a shopping trip or visiting the local library.

“Most recently we had a woman on respite who wanted to visit her son who lives in Castletownbere, so we organised for our bus to bring her down,” says Bantry RehabCare Community Services Manager Catherine Doyle. “We organise trips like this all the time in the respite service for clients. Our aim is to provide a break for clients, in a home-from-home setting whilst providing professional care and support. People come on respite and you find they’re never in the house, they’re out and about on the bus!”

RehabCare provides a number of of person-centred health and social care services: These include a respite service; a day resource centre for adults living with mental health or intellectual disability; a support service in the home or community; and a physical and sensory day resource centre.

“We also have people here who become really well and independent and leave the service but then they might drop back in, says Catherine. “There’s a great camaraderie between the clients and many have made long-lasting friends.”

One of the more recent projects at RehabCare Bantry is a new music initiative designed by the clients with the help of local artist Aoife Doolan. Minister Jim Daly TD launched The Music Box ¬– an upcycling art project made entirely from recycled materials ¬¬– at RehabCare Bantry last month.

Taking four months to complete, the project involved turning a disused water tank into a unique musical space that can be used by up to 20 people at any one time. Used metal pipes, plastic drums, wood and recycled materials were all utilised in the construction of the distinctive space, which fits in with the organic garden ethos at the centre.

Clients at the presentation of a pool table for the centre by Bantry Charity Shop in 2017.

Clients at the presentation of a pool table for the centre by Bantry Charity Shop in 2017.

“Before they started, I remember going out to the tunnel and seeing this big pile of rubbish and thinking ‘yeh right’,” says Catherine laughing. “It’s amazing what you can do with rubbish.”

Cork County Council and the West Cork Development Group supported the project.

Robert Deane, who has been using Bantry RehabCare services for the past 10 years, explains how projects like The Music Box help with his journey of recovery.

“It’s where I go when I’m having a bad day,” he says. “I like music and I sing a lot so I find that The Music Box is very good therapy. It’s good fun and it helps people to come out of themselves. We were all involved in making it, so it’s brought us closer together as a group.”

“I’m very happy here, it’s a great service and has made all the difference to me. I’ve made lots of friends and we do lots of things together. We went to Killarney on the bus and we’ve been to see lots of musicals at Cork Opera House – Annie, The Sound of Music, Grease…”

“We identify goals with the client and set paths to achieve these goals,” explains Programme Supervisor David Myler. These might be centred around activities like going to see a musical or going shopping or they could be around doing a course or getting a job.”

RehabCare Bantry has a large garden and mixed woodland with regular sightings of foxes, hedgehogs and many varieties of birds and insects.

Another project at the Centre involved converting a disused area into a wildlife and nature garden. Last winter, staff and clients got great satisfaction out of constructing and planting up garden beds to demonstrate different habitats and how they would support a variety of plant, insect and animal life.

Clients also have the opportunity to grow their own organic vegetables and fruit.

There is a lot to do outside at RehabCare, whether it’s going for a walk in the woodlands, playing a game of crazy golf, working in the garden, or making some music in The Music Box.

And inside…”There is a really nice atmosphere when you walk in to the building,” says Catherine. “We have an open-door policy, so I could be sitting in my office on the computer and Robert or one of the other clients might come in and sit on the couch for a chat or just to sit in quiet companionship.”

“People get the opportunity to try whatever they want,” explains David. “We’re guided by people’s needs and wants.”

Bantry Respite Service provides a three night respite service (Monday – Thursday or Tuesday – Friday) to any persons both male and female with a physical and/or sensory disability who live in West or North and South Lee Area of Cork and are between the ages of 18 and 65 years, at the time of referral.

If you would like any further information or would like to visit the service please contact Michelle O Brien Team Leader 027-55429 or Catherine Doyle CSM 086-0433112.

The Day Resource Centre provides support services for adults who are living with mental health and or intellectual disability. Clients attend the day service and participate in a wide range of programmes and activities, from art and crafts and horticulture to further education courses.

The service opens five days per week Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5pm and operates an evening drop-in once a month on Wednesday evening. Application forms are available upon request. People can be referred through their GP, West Cork Mental Health Services, PHN, other agencies, family or self-referral.

RehabCare also supports clients with independent living skills by providing support in their homes and in the community.

If you would like to know more about the service for yourself, a family member or a friend please contact Dave Myler Programme Supervisor on 027-51414 or Catherine Doyle CSM on 086-0433112 at RehabCare, Dromleigh South, Bantry.

The Physical and Sensory Day Centre is open Tuesday to Friday 9-5pm and is available to persons on a part time basis. An outreach service is delivered to clients in the Castletownbere area on Mondays where accessible transport is provided in a community setting.

If you would like to know more about our service for yourself, a family member or a friend please contact Martha O’Farrell or Denise McCarthy Programme Supervisor 027-53698 or Catherine Doyle CSM 086-0433112 at RehabCare, Dromleigh South, Bantry.

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